Our mission is simple: Healthcare workers take care of everybody, it is time to take care of their total wellbeing including their mental health. Long after soldiers have returned from war, they are known to experience several degrees of post-tramatic stress disorder, which affects their quality of life and many other consequences. Healthcare workers face challenging situations in their day to day work, losing patients, working long hours, working conditions which are not always favorable combined with personal issues. During situations like the current COVID crises, all these issues are further worsened. Studies done in previous disease outbreaks and in recent times highlight that healthcare workers are worried about getting sick, about losing patients, they are exhausted and do not feel heard or understood (1). They are also at increasingly high risk of several complications like disillusionment with work in the short term and possible post traumatic stress disorder in long term as a result (2). Recent comments by some healthcare workers indicates their frustration with lack of resources, experiences of severe stress, fatigue, sadness at the loss of their patients and colleagues and fears of falling sick themselves, all in spite of their motivation to work and save lives (3). This is only what can be seen immediately, the long term effects have yet to be seen. Everyone responds to stress and stressful situations differently and since healthcare workers are usually reluctant to seek help themselves, such consequences may not be recognized until it is too late. The corona virus will eventually end, but the associated effects on the mental health of people and especially healthcare worker will not just go away. Appropriate attention and care will have to be paid to protect overall well being of these personnel and ensure that the rest of the populace will be able to receive continuous access to healthcare services without shortage of healthcare workers.
What it does
The app, which is still in development seeks to address these challenges and to make room for early detection and mitigation. It is a companion to the healthcare worker. It follows up daily with questions that helps to determine their physical and mental state, as well as environmental factors that could influence their mental health. The questions which are designed by trained psychologists and based on existing psychological scales like the PHQ-9 scale, will be asked through prompted check-ins over a period of days to have a baseline overview of the mental and physical state of health of the user. Adapted questions will then be asked in follow-up as a secondary assessment. A score from the answered questions will determine what the next course of action would be. This could be recommendation to call a psychologist, which will link to free psychologist consultations for healthcare workers, or scheduling reminders on the phone for water breaks or rest, or guided meditations or sending a request to a PPE sourcing service. The interventions will be personalized based on tracked data over time and based on need. Through this tracking, it is able to learn and look out for patterns or events that may need attention and to recommend suitable interventions at appropriate times. The interventions are different based on the individual and based on the location of the individual as local context has to be considered in management.
How I built it
Using personal experience and focused group discussions with a few colleagues, we did a quick model of what would be most useful and have proceeded to a larger market research to better understand the specific needs of our users, we developed questionnaires in both German and English languages and sent them to personal contacts and ask them to distribute the questionnaires further, analysis will be done after exactly one week and the answered will be used to adapt the prototype. A prototype has been developed for this hackathon which will be tested after integrating the responses from the market survey. The app is currently in the prototyping phase and it is in alpha testing mode. This means that we are testing the prototype and evaluating the usability of the UI components, in order to maximize the value that is delivered to the end user, before we release the app to beta testing The prototype was built with Ionic, a Cross-Platform Mobile App Development framework for building mobile apps. The source code of the prototype is available as an open-source project on Github, under the Apache 2.0 licence.
Challenges I ran into
To realize the full features of the app, we would require further coding, AI experts, frontend and backend developers, legal counsel, secure servers and analytics to make an MVP a reality.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
The idea won a first place award at a hackathon by Hacking Health Berlin and Vision Health Pioneers. We have moved from an idea only to market research and prototyping creation in alpha testing phase. We also have a medical doctor, psychologist, public health professional, neuropsychology expert and software engineer on board and are currently looking to get more skills on board.
What I learned
Creating wireframes was possible in several apps such as invision, bubble and moqups.com Use of tools such as Adobe XD to create prototypes We improved our business model canvas by cutting out some non essential items and focusing on what was actually useful for the app as a product.
We connected with at least 3 mentors who coached us extensively on content and focus, as well as on ways to improve the product. They gave direction on what was further required to make it a reality and what to focus on in developing our MVP. Our mentors were happy to continue with us on the journey to realizing this product even after the hackathon. We benefitted greatly from their encouragement and knowledge and skills they brought to our project in this hackathon.
What's next for MyCare App
MyCare App is excited about the prospect of becoming a reality and providing necessary assistance to the frontline workers during the corona virus crisis and is definitely useful in the long term as well, as the main effects of the stress on the healthcare workers will be seen not only immediately but in the long term as well.
Having a team with all the needed skills will truly help in realizing the app. We hope to build a team with more of the required skill to help realize the product and bring to market.
We plan to collaborate with already existing services such as mAIndcraft and BetterHelp who are offering free psychologist hotlines for healthcare workers, as well as logistic services like 'contribute2us' and other services that are sourcing PPEs for hospitals to make the platform run efficiently.
A collaboration with hospitals and their management will make it easier to have adopted as part of their employee wellness programs and to ensure that the concerns of the healthcare workers are actually taken and the right measures taken on the larger scale by their employees to encourage staff continuity and reduce turnover rates. Financial support will also ensure that we acquire all the needed expertise in development of the app and to get the app out early enough for it to have the most value.
Factors Associated With Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019 Jianbo Lai, MSc1; Simeng Ma, MSc2; Ying Wang, MSc2; et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(3):e203976. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.3976
Reissman, D. B., Watson, P. J., Klomp, R. W., Tanielian, T. L., & Prior, S. D. (2006). Pandemic influenza preparedness: adaptive responses to an evolving challenge. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 3(2)
Kang, L.J., Li, Y., Hu, S.H., Chen, M., Yang, C., Yang, B.X., Wang, Y., Hu, J.B., Lai, J.B., Ma, X.C., Chen, J., Guan, L.L., Wang, G.H., Ma, H., & Liu, Z.C. (2020). The mental health of medical workers in Wuhan, China dealing with the 2019 novel coronavirus. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7 (3), e14. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30047-X