Among the major challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis are the imminent collapse of health systems due to the overload of hospitalization cases and the need to resume work activities in order to safeguard the country’s economic system. These issues are further pronounced in countries from the Global South that are economically unstable and did not undergo a process of digitization of key sectors such as health and public administration. In contrast to such a situation, a considerable number of those Global South countries, such as Brazil, India and other countries of Latin America and Southeast Asia, are known to have heavily tech-oriented and digitally integrated societies/private sectors that interact and showcase a mastery of a wide range of digital solutions.
Our team is composed of individuals of different expertise and backgrounds that have experienced and been equally shaped by the impact of the rapid digitization of Global South countries. As such, we have developed the necessary skills to identify both the opportunities created by a digital society and the digital shortcomings of public administrations.
The apparent paradox of tech-savvy societies dwelling in a digitally-impaired public structure has motivated us to develop cautio, a digital solution that bridges the gap between individuals and their respective countries’ health systems.
We envision cautio being used by hospitals, individuals and governmental authorities to enable medical follow-up and data aggregation of individuals that were diagnosed with COVID-19 and had to be sent home due to the hospitals’ overload or for having only mild symptoms.
How cautio works
cautio seeks to address sent-home COVID-19 cases through the implementation of a user friendly two-pronged application that may be accessed by the government and hospitals on one side, and by individuals on the other. This solution will harbor profiles of persons diagnosed with COVID-19, which will be created by hospitals or other relevant health entities, indicating when and where they were tested positive for the virus; the prescribed medication; their home address; whether they have been hospitalized previously or not; and their initial health condition.
These individuals would then gain access to cautio and be able to register the daily progress of his/her condition by submitting information, such as his/her temperature and other symptoms, to his/her daily journal on their mobile devices or PCs by themselves or through a carer.
Through cautio, hospitals can monitor the development of sent-home COVID-19 cases and adopt hospitalization measures for individuals whose health conditions are progressively deteriorating. In addition, cautio can enable multiple hospitals to cooperate through a network and to assign patients to each other on the basis of their hospitalization capacity.
In this regard, cautio does not intend to create a doctor-patient channel but instead, an environment in which hospitals and the government can keep track of the development of sent-home COVID-19 cases in order to understand the behavior and tendencies of patients and the pandemic via established artificial intelligence and statistics algorithms. Nonetheless, depending on the deterioration of the patient’s health being recorded by cautio, the hospitals can take the necessary measures by establishing direct contact through other means.
On the government side, the fully encrypted and anonymized data provided by cautio can be used to easily evaluate the development of sent-home COVID-19 active cases on a geographical level, as well as to aggregate information on individuals that have reported no more symptoms. These pieces of information shall contribute to more accurate governmental decisions and public policies to resume normal working conditions in the future, among others.
Therefore, cautio is able to provide real-time status of COVID-19 on an individual level for medical follow-up, as well as valuable inputs for public administrations for data analysis on a bigger scale.
How we built cautio
cautio is designed to be highly scalable and easy to deploy. In this regard, cautio is able to immediately handle a sudden explosive growth of its user base due to its native cloud structure.
We are taking advantage of Amazon Web Services (AWS) to minimize maintenance overhead by outsourcing the infrastructure management and security and thus enhancing cautio’s performance and cost-effectiveness without compromising its functionality.
cautio’s backend is entirely serverless and built using AWS Lambdas, which allows for decoupled operations and significantly faster iterations. This extremely resilient and manageable structure enables precise and smooth vertical scalability. Additionally, as a consequence of the adopted structure, the failure of a part of the software would not compromise its remaining segments.
Our database of choice is MongoDB, which is a NoSQL database that uses a document data model and allows us to be highly flexible with the data structure, as well as to iterate more rapidly in the coming weeks. It also enables performant aggregations for more efficient data analysis. MongoDB also has full support for geospatial queries, a crucial feature for aggregating geospatial data under the scope of our project. We are using Mongo Atlas deployed on AWS servers as our MongoDB managed service. We intend to maximize throughput and minimize latency by deploying it in AWS within the same locations as the rest of the application.
For cautio’s frontend we chose renowned and market-tested technologies such as React and Gatsby that provide a strongly established ecosystem, to create a better user-friendly experience. We have taken the necessary steps to ensure that cautio is simple, intuitive and easy to use for patients, hospital workers, and governmental officials while taking into account the wide range of users with different backgrounds and ages.
How we created cautio's visual ID
Drawing inspiration from the Latin word “cautio”, we designed a brand whose main elements derive from the concepts of care, health, and medical follow-up.
In this regard, two of the main elements of our brand are particularly emphasized: the red cross and the user, which represent the hospitals and the individuals, respectively. These elements are highlighted with the brand’s key colors, (red “Fiery Rose” and turquoise “Dark Turquoise”) and interconnected through a section of the logo’s letter “t”.
Our brand’s objective is to showcase the more decentralized interconnection between hospitals and individuals that can be achieved through cautio, and how it benefits public administrations, health entities, and the individual person in different ways.
Challenges we ran into
cautio is an initiative created from scratch for The Global Hack. Consequently, we faced challenges related to time constraints, such as assembling the team, clearing relevant legal issues, reaching to governmental stakeholders on how to integrate cautio with their existing solutions, and how to simplify as much as possible the user experience not to further overload hospital workers and to encourage its continuing usage by individuals.
Furthermore, cautio may be required to follow privacy regulations that would demand the addition of new features to our current structure. As a first step to address this issue, we intend to build a strong and resilient point-to-point encryption for the data transmitted through cautio.
From a business standpoint and depending on the national legislation, the implementation of cautio may demand the establishment of an office within a specific country’s territory in order to carry out its activities.
Overcoming the current crisis requires the full engagement of society. Through cautio, we managed to create an interconnection between the three major players of the fight against the COVID-19: hospitals, public administrations, and individuals.
Throughout the period of The Global Hack, we received very positive feedback and validation from key stakeholders in the fight against the COVID-19. As such, public and private hospital workers have expressed their enthusiasm when introduced to cautio, claiming that this tool can be very effective and feasible to understand the behavior of patients and to enable further medical follow-up.
Likewise, governmental officials from both health and crisis management departments of big and medium cities with different socioeconomic contexts have voiced their interest in cautio. They highlighted the positive impact that this platform can have when assessing the current crisis, especially concerning the possibility to gather real-time data of sent-home COVID-19 cases, which are often hard to track.
We are confident and proud of cautio’s capability of bridging the gap between such players and to provide an easy-to-use solution that enables medical follow-up, as well as data aggregation on the behavior and tendencies of patients and the pandemic for governance and research.
What’s next for cautio
We are in the process of reaching out to multiple hospitals, governmental stakeholders and investors to enable the implementation of cautio, as well as possible partners, such as health tracker manufacturers, in order to improve cautio’s functionalities.
We are currently implementing compliance measures in accordance with relevant legislation, such as GDPR, and their data protection and privacy obligations concerning sensitive personal and health-related information. Additionally, we will implement the relevant Terms and Conditions in order to obtain explicit consent, as well as to ensure compliance with the applicable privacy requirements from the individual side when they start using cautio.
Meanwhile, we will consolidate cautio’s infrastructure. We intend to apply a trainable pattern recognition algorithm to analyze user behavior and disease progression to provide better insights for the involved parties. Moreover, we will implement a fully encrypted data processing pipeline in order to provide world-class data protection on par with best practices. We will also take anonymization measures to facilitate governmental analysis and scientific research.
Among other things that are yet to be implemented, we plan to convert our platform from react to react native in the near future, add new features, such as more symptoms to report; the possibility for hospitals to register pre-existing health conditions of their patients; allow authentication through other means, such as SMS and Outlook; make cautio available in other languages, and address other issues we faced during cautio’s initial stages.
We have the intention to continue our research and development in order to discover other situations in which cautio can make a difference. Initially, we are investigating the possibility of integrating cautio alongside geo-tracking bracelets commonly used for children monitoring and add a feature to notify responsible authorities whenever a patient leaves his/her quarantine perimeter. Thus, we would build a limited geofencing functionality that can be crucial for the enforcement of some regulations such as those being enacted in countries such as Australia and Italy that prohibits the return of elderly people to their nursing homes if they breach quarantine.
We look forward to improving cautio’s functionalities in line with the valuable inputs that we have received during The Global Hack.