The world looks much different since it has come to know COVID-19. While we can’t go back to exactly how things were before the pandemic, we keep learning more about how to effectively live with the virus. Healthcare analytics is playing an important role in these efforts. This is how healthcare is using analytics to combat COVID-19.
Forecasting Virus Outbreaks
As people around the world have come to grips with COVID-19, one thing that has become a constant wonder for many is if and when there will be more “waves,” where infections spike for a prolonged period. This is important to know for several reasons. As we saw at the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone panics at once, it can lead to severe supply shortages—putting people at increased levels of danger.
Not only that, understanding the likelihood of future virus outbreak can help governments and people do more to prepare for it. When an outbreak is in the forecast, it’s easier to get the needed medical equipment and facilities ready, while also taking steps to further mitigate the spread. Analytics is playing an integral role in this process. Organizations such as the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) have created a COVID-19 index, which helps track the likelihood of another virus outbreak.
Predicting Future Rates of Infection
Of course, the number of people being infected by a virus is the most significant element to understanding its current affect, as this tracks how many are ill at any given time. But what are the factors that lead to people getting a virus? There are clearly health and environmental issues at play; but the virus itself is also a huge factor in this calculus.
Epidemiology and the general study of disease is a complex subject. These are fields that continually evolve as we learn more. However, the study of diseases isn’t the only thing changing. The virus itself is constantly evolving in order to increase its own chances of survival. By employing healthcare analytics, experts can utilize data to get a better idea of how a virus like COVID-19 might continue mutating to avoid vaccines and other treatments. Utilizing advanced analytics can give medical experts a leg up on the invisible enemy.
Estimating Community Risk
No two communities are exactly the same. Even towns or cities that appear similar in nature can have elements that will drastically change how they’re affected by COVID-19. Due to the extreme level of variables that play into this equation, using healthcare analytics is about the only way to make any progress in terms of an actual estimation.
Part of the reason why analytics is so much more effective than past analytics tools, or just people parsing through data, is because they’re often powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. With AI-driven analytics, it’s possible to analyze much larger sets of data in significantly less time. Additionally, it’s possible for these programs to spot anomalies in data that can point to important answers completely invisible to the human eye.
Social Distancing and Travel Evaluation
Throughout the pandemic, there have been many actions taken by governments and other organizations to limit the spread. The extent and effectiveness of these has varied across the board. Some organizations, such as CommonSpirit Health in Chicago, built tools based on public data to determine how much people were traveling and meeting in person. By then evaluating this data with analytics, it’s possible to get a better idea of how the virus will spread in the near term, and even track potential hotspots of infection.
Determining Likelihood of Testing Positive Based on Demographics
Not everyone has the same chances of getting extremely ill from COVID-19. There’s still a lot medical scientists are learning about how the disease caused by Coronavirus affects different people. Therefore, more research is needed in order to get clearer answers.
Analytics can help in this process by helping to determine the chances of someone testing positive based on demographic information. Of course, not everyone who gets COVID-19 will get tested, but by gradually being able to match up various demographics with outcomes, it’s possible to get a better picture of true risk.
COVID-19 has been a massive challenge for people around the globe for many reasons. Using healthcare analytics to combat it, as well as future viral outbreaks, can help keep people and communities safer.