Over the past few weeks, members of our community have watched mixed messages in the media concerning increased incidences of COVID-19. Instructions about assessing their personal condition, such as taking their temperature, are incomplete and results are mostly unreported. With many individuals unable to receive proper testing due to insufficient supply, it is vitally important that public health departments capture this self-assessed data to provide a better picture of the potential outbreak. Our goal is to provide the general public with a personalized list of local resources while informing health officials about potential unreported cases and the burdens people face due to economic barriers.
We are developing a web-based application, BackSplash, that will provide important patient symptom and social determinants of health information to local, county, and state health officials while helping the general public collect accurate information from local resources. An online tool for recording symptoms will populate a database and provide feedback about clinical conditions relative to other cohorts. Age, location, and other factors will be routinely analyzed to help provide health officials with a better picture of the outbreak in their community. The public will also be provided with contact information to services in their county, such as the local public health department. These services will help provide individuals with accurate and up-to-date information as it pertains to their community.
Our team is actively creating the online application for collecting symptoms and data on social determinants of health. We are reviewing and adopting clinical indicators of COVID-19 in use by public health departments. We are identifying and organizing demographic and other data elements supporting patient reporting and surveillance. For educational purposes, we are gathering possible content and links of local and state services.
Practicality and Feasibility
Once implemented, BackSplash will directly impact physicians, health officials and policy makers, and patients. Our data will provide important indicators for the volume of unreported COVID-19 cases. As testing becomes more readily available, we will help physicians understand what kind of influx they may see from their community. BackSplash will include questions regarding adherence to public policies such as social distancing. We will be able to provide health officials data on the effectiveness of these measures and help policymakers make informed decisions on best next steps. Potential patients and the general public will receive valuable information about local resources, which may impact families facing economic hardships.
As we finish developing the website, Backsplash will be scalable to any county or state nationwide. Collecting information through the survey and disseminating it to health officials will be very adaptable. Collecting the appropriate local resources may be arduous and time consuming, however, we hope to overcome this barrier through outside partnerships.
Next Steps and Necessary Resources
In order to protect our respondent’s information, we will need to obtain an encrypted SQL database. Moving forward, one of the biggest challenges to scaling out is collecting the pertinent local resources for every county. Using internal connections, we hope to partner with outside organizations, such as United Way, who could provide a directory of local services. As we continue to grow and expand to new locations, we will create an evaluation method to ensure the we are using the proper metrics and improving the tool. We will also validate our findings with local, county, and state public health departments. Finally, we will touch base with the IRB as we consider publishing our findings.