With the current situation of the country in relation to COVID-19, our team decided to step up and develop an app to help out our frontliners and the regular Filipinos to curb the spread of COVID cases.
With our belief that innovation is the solution, we created an app around the Filipinos capability to form meaningful social networks.
ENDCoV #ENDCoVPH #EndCovWithENDCoV
As citizens of a developing country whose government lacks the manpower, economic resources, and time to conduct mass triage surveys and advise us accordingly, perform contact tracing, and subsequently notify those who had been in contact with a COVID positive patient, our group wondered if there is an innovative way by which we delegates all those functions to technology so what our government can focus their meager resources to other important matters.
What ENDCoV does
ENDCoV is a community-driven crowdsourcing medical information application designed to augment the government’s efforts to: (1) identify the health condition of a user and provide the corresponding recommendation based on our locally-approved triage algorithm (i.e., self-quarantine, testing); (2) establish a confidential contact tracing journal of persons and the places that the user has made in contact with for the sole purpose contact tracing and coordination of information to the government; and (3) in partnership with the relevant government authorities, provide mass anonymous notification to persons with whom a COVID-19 positive patient had made prior contact with.
How we built it
This innovation started out as an initiative of some students from our class from the Master of Science in Innovation and Business at Asian Institute of Management. We are a mix of different professionals (doctors, government employees, advertising executives, health industry practitioners, software developers, a hospital administrator, and a soldier) who are united by our common belief that innovation is the key against our fight with the COVID-19 virus. We started out with a simple idea -- let people assess themselves if they needed to be tested (to manage the lack of test kits available in the country), and if they are at risk of transmitting the virus (whether they interacted with someone who is infected, or if it is the other way around). Having a team of health professionals, we interpreted the triage algorithm released by the Philippines' Department of Health into a code we could use for the app. The said algorithm is the same algorithm used in hospitals to determine if a person is recommended for COVID testing, consultation, or home quarantine. This would also avoid hospitals from being overcrowded, and having people unnecessarily exposed to the virus. As for the contact tracing feature, the big idea was that alerts can be anonymously sent to your peers and your family, once you have been tagged as positive.
As we were working on the project, more and more volunteers wanted to help out -- doctors, software developers, and even other organizations who had the same goal. As our team grew, we split up into small sub-groups to distribute the tasks from Research and Development (for up to date and accurate medical content), Software Development (for programming the application), Marketing (for campaigning the product). Before we officially launched the app, we promoted it via Facebook and Instagram, and found that a lot of people were already interested in it (which is how we were also able to team up with some of our partners now). We were also able to crowdsource information on how we can develop the app further. By the time we launched a beta version of the app, it has been featured in media, and in less than 24hrs we already had 4000+ downloads. We're still working on improving the app's UX and the additional features such as the COVID-19 heatmap, clinic/hospital proximity maps, and online consultation. Even if we were able to somehow fulfill the app's original purpose, we are given the opportunity now to improve it and make it more useful. Honestly, we're quite excited to see how much help it can give, and how much people it can help out.
Challenges we ran into
The main challenge we faced were having limited resources -- time, people and funding. We needed to act fast if we wanted to help out because the more we delayed the app release, the more people would most likely transmit the disease due to lack of information. The app was built within 2 sleepless weeks upon its conception and is still undergoing a few upgrades. Due to the pandemic, communities are under quarantine so all discussions and meetings are being done remotely. Partnerships were built from Zoom meetings and Outlook emails. Endorsements would take longer than expected. It was as if the whole dynamics of "working together" on a project has changed. As for the funding, there was none. The whole app and its campaign we're created at no cost by volunteers who united in helping out in the nation's fight against COVID-19.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
That two days after our launch we have acquired a 4,000 strong user base for our application. We have also partnered with local government units for the app to be part of their efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in their constituency. Aside from government agencies, we are also exploring partnerships with our local medical community to expand the features of our application to include online consultation.
What we've learned
The importance of extensively educating the users on how to properly use the application and set their expectations on what the app can deliver. We also learned the importance of partnership to maximize the impact of our initiative and benefit the most number of people in the shortest amount of time.
What's next for ENDCoV
To achieve our goal to be a user’s complete survival kit against the COVID-19 pandemic. Which would then include us developing features such as: online doctor consultation after a user gets the same advice from the app, provide real-time data to users on which hospitals or testing centers can accommodate them, and provide a real-time heat map which provides data on the locations that a COVID positive patient has been in for the past 14 days prior to being declared as such, with their respective time frames.