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IT and digital played a pivotal role in COVID management

During the pandemic, more than in any other public health situation, information systems played a critical role in managing data at the speed the situation required. They provided actionable insights for taking action, making the most informed decisions possible, and adjusting policies to allow for better intelligence on actions to improve health. Emerging technologies and automation have the potential to improve public health like never before in the history of humankind. Information systems provided immediate, expeditious, and coordinated data access and sharing to facilitate the prioritization of care, access, and response, especially for people in condition of vulnerability. With the amount of health data, it is possible to plan actions that reduce potential health inequities at all levels of care, and facilitate efficient medical services for the masses.

The largest and fastest implementation of information management solutions at population scale were Aarogaya Setu and CoWin App by NIC of India.

We at Dr Lal PathLabs have fully utilized IT and digital as the business drivers and tools to manage the unforeseen and unpredictable situations caused by the pandemic of COVID-19. A few use-cases, which were prime examples of role of IT and digital, are given below.

  • Home collection slot management automation. The use of digital properties, including the website and patient app, were used to provide the feature of DIY (do-it-yourself) on the fly slot management by the patients at their end. This involved zero manual intervention and Dr Lal PathLabs was able to serve a bigger volume of satisfied patients.
  • Use of automated solutions for sample handling. There were a variety of software solutions required in the sample life-cycle management, starting from sample receipt and distribution till the report release. The workflow required here to manage the COVID samples was entirely different from a conventional one.
  • Compliance with ICMR and other state government portals. One of the significant tasks in the management of COVID was to inform the government authorities for the result positivity and other details of the positive patients. This was the backbone of the containment drives run by the state and central health institutes. The new-age tools like robotic process automation (RPA), i.e., BOT automation were used to automate the data-entry process into the government portals.
  • Logistics automation for COVID sample handover. The sample movement needed some automation to trap the time stamping of COVID samples, and the workflow needed to be an ad hoc and a different one as the samples could not be touched by the logistics team and any other personnel except by the person who collected the samples and the processing team who were supposed to do the actual testing. To overcome this, specially designed pre-labelled sample bags were created, which could be tracked remotely by logistics using the newly created workflows for them.
  • Query and call management at customer care. The customer care agents were facilitated with automated tools and system-driven processes to manage the unprecedented influx of home-collection requests and report enquiries for COVID testing. DIY methodology was used for the patients to have the result status known using chat bots/IVR and websites. Additionally, a system was built to identify the incoming calls as a phone number registered for COVID test or not. It helped diverting the calls to specialized and relevant personnel directly. New integrations were created for customer care executives (CCEs) to have the result status known on a single screen. All these tools were significant in reducing the average call handling (AHT) per call, and thus enabling a CCE to serve a greater number of patients/customers. Also, the CCE was having the same view of slot availability as what a patient could see from the e-commerce site.

IT and digital played a very pivotal role in overall running of the business operations virtually. This enabled the organization to maintain a proper office decorum of holding and organizing business meetings while keeping social distancing also in place.

The most significant and prime example for the usage of IT and digital is the implementation and usage of Aarogya Setu and CoWin apps by the government. This is one of the biggest use-case in the world, which has touched or created an impact on every Indian citizen.