The problem your project solves

COVID-19 is a new disease, and doctors are having to make important clinical decisions based on limited information, and without standardised treatment protocols. In particular, there is a lack of information about treatments and outcomes for patients with comorbidities, common amongst the most severe cases. This lack of information impacts on patient outcomes.

While the traditional peer-reviewed information channels scramble to pull together studies and recommendations, medical professionals are complementing these by sharing their knowledge and learning with one another directly.

As the Wall Street Journal described “Health-care workers are tapping into social media, podcasts, medical blogs and text-message groups to share improvised solutions to supply shortages and patient care, forcing hospitals to quickly re-evaluate their practices.”

While social media channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook provide an opportunity for live exchange of information, they offer no quality control and put patient confidentiality into question. This puts patient safety and security at risk.

CEPAT addresses the critical lack of information available by facilitating a trusted, real-time, organized information exchange between doctors to improve patient outcomes.

The solution you bring to the table (including technical details, architecture, tools used)

CEPAT is an online platform enabling doctors around the world to exchange experiences of COVID treatment options. It harnesses collective intelligence from clinicians from across the world to improve patient care and outcomes.

CEPAT provides a simple and secure platform for a trusted information exchange about treatments and outcomes regarding COVID-19 patients for hospitals and medical professionals during this crisis. A key characteristic of CEPAT is its easy-to-use interface. The platform uses a simple data input form to collect data about patient treatment cases directly from doctors, and peer review and rating mechanisms to ensure the high quality of the data. Doctors can consult the platform using advanced search and filter options to get information about patients with specific comorbidities. This leads to more informed decisions, specifically treating patients with comorbidities and better outcomes for patients.

The platform is built with advanced web technologies using frameworks such as angular.js and bootstrap. In the backend, we created an API using Python and the Flask microframework making data accessible. In addition, we are using a service that integrates Elasticsearch to retrieve data for any search input.

In future the platform could draw on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques such as Named Entity Recognition and provide a GraphQL Endpoint. This means that the data input can be made available in a structured form and can be made accessible for federated queries.

What you have done during the weekend

We have turned an idea and basic prototype into a business.

Specifically we have:

  • Conducted comprehensive market research through a survey of medical practitioners around Europe (with respondents from Switzerland, UK, Greece, Italy), interviewing 5 clinicians and med-tech business leaders, and contacting 7 skills mentors from the EUvsVirus hackathon to better understand the user needs and validate the product proposal
  • Conducted an analysis of the competitive landscape and identified potential partners
  • Engaged with other similar hackathon projects, exploring opportunities to collaborate on product development
  • Further developed the interface of the product
  • Consulted 2 legal experts regarding privacy and GDPR requirements, and developed a privacy framework
  • Developed CEPAT`s business plan, using the start-up framework, and identified 6 key areas for further development

The solution’s impact to the crisis

By providing real-time information to clinicians through a peer to peer mechanism, complementary to more formal information channels, CEPAT will lead to more informed decisions and better care for patients.

Our vision is for CEPAT to become the trusted information exchange platform for hospitals and medical professionals during this crisis. The platform will also be a useful resource for authorities and national ministries.

CEPAT will first be introduced in Switzerland, where the team has a strong network, and where CEPAT was first conceptualised. It will be quickly rolled out across Europe, over the next 3 - 6 months. Additional countries worldwide will be added to the platform based on need, as the pandemic continues to spread.

We are initially envisioning a timeframe of up to 2 years, in line with expectations for the longevity of the pandemic. However, the software is being designed with the possibility to expand CEPAT to cover other diseases in the longer term.

The necessities in order to continue the project

Priorities to take the project forward include:

Refining the product design The market research has enabled us to identify a number of key areas for further discussion, in particular related to information quality, ease of use, and dissemination. Specifically, the team is continuing to explore:

  • Which comorbidities, or patient profiles, are the target cases, where a platform like CEPAT can have the most impact?
  • In what ways should the platform analyse data submitted by medical professionals? How can CEPAT draw on Machine Learning techniques such as Named Entity Recognition, so that the data is made available in a structured form?
  • What quality control mechanism is needed before cases can be published? Is being a registered clinician sufficient vetting?
  • Who should be responsible for moderating the information shared?
  • How should the information on CEPAT be disseminated beyond the website?
  • How can we ensure that the platform is easy to use, both to research and submit cases?

Necessities include: access to experts to inform the team`s decisions; technical expertise in AI and UX; access to partners to collaborate with on data quality; funding to support further market research.

Developing the software Once the product design has been refined, we will need to turn the prototype into the full platform. The technology team will include a Designer, Backend Developer, Frontend Developer, and Data Scientist.

Necessities: funding to cover salaries and to run the servers and data-hosting.

Building partnerships and disseminating the product For CEPAT to have the maximum impact, it will need to draw on a network of partners to scale it across Europe and beyond. Specifically, we are looking for medical bodies and national health authorities to work with us to disseminate CEPAT in their countries, and medical information services to share the findings of CEPAT with their networks.

Necessities: access to partners across Europe and beyond; local legal expertise; funding to cover marketing materials and activities.

Maintaining the product While the aim of CEPAT is for peer to peer exchange, with peer-led review mechanisms, some moderation will be required to guarantee the quality of the information, identified by our market research as a key concern for physicians. In addition, the platform will require ongoing technical maintenance.

Necessities: funding to cover salaries of moderators and administrators and run the servers and data-hosting.

The value of your solution(s) after the crisis

CEPAT addresses a need for a real-time peer to peer exchange of information for cases where treatment protocols are unclear - the situation doctors often find themselves in when dealing with either new diseases or patients with complex combinations of comorbidities. As such the software could also be used in these situations, by adding more diseases to the platform.

History tells us that disease outbreaks occur on a frequent basis; the 2002 - 2004 SARS outbreak and the 2014 - 2016 ebola outbreak remain close memories. In addition, we know that strong information networks are a key part of pandemic preparedness. CEPAT`s technology will be ready to react to the next disease outbreak, enabling a faster, more informed response, preventing such a deep crisis, and leading to better outcomes for patients.

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