SOMOS is Spanish for "We Are" and at SOMOS Health, we advocate for the health and wellness of the Latinx community within the U.S. Our goal is to provide accurate, reliable and actionable information to support our community.
As COVID-19 has grown into a global pandemic and brought the entire world to a standstill, the Latinx population has been, and will continue to be, disproportionately affected by this virus in comparison to other ethnic groups. Data has shown that the Hispanic population is at a higher risk of contracting the virus and less willing to seek medical care. Beyond COVID, both scientific and social research from government and academic institutions consistently finds that the US Latinx population, although being one of the largest ethnic minority groups within the United States, is a severely underserved demographic when it comes to accessing healthcare services.
This group is widely known to have lower levels of health insurance coverage, under utilization of preventative healthcare services, and lastly, they are known to be at higher risk for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes when compared to non-Hispanic whites. Lack of education, low levels of access, and language barriers are all issues that contribute to underrepresentation of the Latinx community within the health system. This problem is further exacerbated by the lack of culturally tailored online educational content and digital tools that have been clinically proven to inform and improve health conditions with other ethnic groups.
What it does
Spanish COVID-19 Symptom Checker: A solution to help Spanish speaking individuals quickly identify coronavirus symptoms and get reliable information regarding COVID-19 concerns. The tool assesses symptoms that the individual has experienced and delivers a recommendation on whether they have no risk, or should quarantine, urgently seek medical attention, or self-isolate. Our tool is safe and reliable, and its logic is based on the official global information provided by the WHO.
How we built it
- We worked with partners to provide a workflow based on WHO guidelines and conditional logic to produce accurate results.
- This data and workflow is then made available via an API call which we can pull into many different formats (web form, chatbot, Alexa, etc.)
- For phase one we opted for a webform embedded onto our PHP Wordpress website
- Our web developers and content marketing team developed the back-end/front-end website and produced engaging content to accompany the tool.
Challenges we ran into
Our original thought was to integrate our symptom checker with a Facebook Messenger chat bot, but it had its limitations including lack of control with our API and ability to control user inputs, which when entered incorrectly, disrupted the workflow of the bot. The bot, as it functions today, is accessible via our Facebook Messenger on our Page: link
Accomplishments that we're proud of
In less than ten days and with no budget, our lean, but mean, team was able to:
- After many iterations, understand how to best integrate the symptom checker and tailor it to are target demographic.
- Experimented using the symptom checker via a chatbot capabilities on Facebook messenger (still in development)
- Developed a custom and branded website (still in development)
- Interviewed multiple doctors and medical professionals from Keck Medicine of USC and UCLA Health about COVID-19 and it's impact to the Hispanic population. This is used to gain a better understanding of our target group and of the virus.
- Developed a brand identity for engagement and brand recognition (logos, color schemes, style guide)
- Created social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) and began sharing resources from reputable sources.
What we learned
The tool alone will not attract usage. We must create content and engage with targeted users on channels where they interact with the most. In this case, Hispanics are heavy users of Facebook and access mobile websites as opposed to downloading an app.
What's next for SOMOS Health (Spanish COVID-19 Symptom Checker)
We are seeking $50,000 to help SOMOS scale our symptom checker so that it is sustainable and can be reliably accessed by potentially hundreds of thousands of users. These funds will help cover our server and web hosting related costs and allow further refinement/customization of the tool.
A Tool Beyond COVID-19Our symptom checker could also be expanded to include non-COVID related symptoms and generate results for other conditions and provide recommendations based on level of care needed. Our tools could then integrate with a list of providers or health systems in the area that can treat the reported condition and make the appointment.
A User-Friendly WebsiteWe will continue to improve on the experience of the website and produce culturally tailored content covering updates on COVID-19 and additional health-related topics such as mental well-being, nutrition, and conditions that the Latinx community is at high risk for.
Physician Videos about COVID-19 and BeyondWe've already interviewed several physicians and intend to continue these productions about health topics and their impact to the Hispanic community. These videos will be edited, branded, shared in small segments on our social media channels and repurposed into written content pieces. Also, by virtue of producing these videos we get to build relationships with physicians and health systems which will increase our reputation by association.
Social Media Engagement* Increase organic engagement of our social media channels by sharing all of our free tools and content mentioned above.
Increasing AwarenessLast but definitely not least, we will purchase ads on Facebook, where Hispanics are known to have high levels of engagement. These ads will be highly targeted focusing on Spanish speaking individuals within dense metropolitan areas.
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