What do you do when all your heroes are busy at work?
There is no daily count for the heroes of this crisis. They extend into so many aspects of our lives, from letter carriers to bus drivers, pizza delivery to grocers, from the farm to your mouth, so many in between. The most visible heroes though are healthcare workers, from EMTs to doctors, janitors to nurses, cleaning staff to IT, social workers to technicians.
The hazards are asymmetrical. Most of us have little to do but stay in our homes, some working there with little change from our previous lives (like me), others without work wondering how to avoid financial calamity. And while these annoyances and fears are no mere trifles, if we do follow this protocol, we are more likely to be insulated from the risk of sickness and death that all those heroes face each minute, in every breath.
What then are we to do? I find myself thrashing between empathy overload for all the heroes and victims and anger mismanagement over the dis-informers and exploiters. I can’t change the circumstances of either. We are all where we are in this moment. How we got here is our own story to tell or forget.
What I have chosen to do is what I believe I am best able to do right now. I work for a healthcare information technology company. Our products are used throughout the world by the very professionals in the front lines of the fight. What I can do is try and leverage the power these products bring to our customers.
This is a small contribution to be sure — I know that. It does not solve the crisis. It is not a vaccine, not a ventilator, not the great destroyer of coronavirus. It is, however, what I have the ability to do for one specific group of people at risk, no matter how few. Helping even one feels like a victory, because if everyone with something to offer can help only one person avoid the worst, then — well — you do the math.
The one thing I can offer is something that works with our product, used by many hospital systems and related businesses. In my position, in my Co-Creation Lab, I work with different vendors looking for innovative ways to use our products together. And one of those projects led me here.
We asked the question: What if every bit of data running through those hospitals and clinics could be tested for coronavirus?
Without trying to be too clever by half, we could call it the Healthcare Data COVID-19 Test Kit.
(I suppose that was too clever by at least one-third, but it is an apt description nonetheless.)
Inspecting Data for COVID Codes
This is what the "test kit" does:
- Inspects every message or document flowing through the integration engine to identify those with one of the 52 COVID-19 codes as defined by the Standard Terminology systems.
- Supports the following formats: Hl7v2, CDA, FHIR, CSV, JSON, XML
- Inspects all coded elements in your document or message
- Logs and/or reports each (matching) document or message
- The report includes all matches found in the document or message, identifying the matching codes and context
- Adds limited metadata for patient ID and document ID
- Optionally sends the results to a data store for extended reporting
The primary objective I set is that it has a light touch, requiring little to no effort on part of our customers, because they are, as we all know, far too busy with the crisis at hand. I also wanted it to be flexible, expand the code set, create your own — look for anything, not just COVID-19.
The test kit (a “route” in product lexicon) is one small thing, a simple idea born in a fever.
While it can produce high-value raw data, it is up to others to decide how best to use to it.
And so that is what I decided to do, from my modest position, for my heroic customers, in this enormous moment.
For further reading:
- How HealthIT Can Address the Pandemic in a More Meaningful, Productive Way
- 3 Recommendations for COVID-19 Interoperability and Data Exchange
- Public Health Interoperability Solutions