The role of digital health platforms in managing outbreaks

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The role of digital health platforms in managing outbreaks

By Maria Fontanazza

For years digital health platforms have been integral in helping navigate viral outbreaks such as HIV, COVID-19, and monkeypox. Ramin Bastani, CEO of Healthvana – a platform that delivers test results and records (the company just surpassed 50 million records delivered) to get patients on the right track to receive treatment – talks about how such digital health solutions are improving the response to disease outbreaks.

Med Ad News: What progress have digital health platforms made in helping healthcare providers navigate and manage disease outbreaks?

Ramin Bastani, Healthvana

Ramin Bastani, Healthvana

Ramin Bastani: Some developments in digital health have been incredibly valuable in helping providers manage disease outbreaks. Today we expect most providers to text us appointment reminders and email us a link where we can view test results. Telehealth is a clear example of how digital health can help stem a disease outbreak; a provider’s ability to digitally diagnose and treat patients (either over video or a phone call) and then quickly order prescriptions (if needed) is an important tool to slow the spread of a disease – people no longer need to infect others on the way to the doctor’s office or to pick up a prescription. Even just a few years ago telehealth was not as commonplace as it is today.

Med Ad News: How are digital health platforms enabling industry to respond faster to outbreaks?

Bastani: When it comes to the actual tracking of disease outbreaks, through funding like National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan, there’s a renewed focus on pathogen surveillance and response programs such as predicting the emergence and geographic spread; I think we will see new and exciting developments in related areas in the near future. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were attempts to get individuals to opt-in to use Bluetooth on their smartphones to alert individuals to potential COVID-19 exposures. Though the promise of this tech is exciting, unfortunately, few people opted in. Now that we better understand how COVID is transmitted, I think people would be more willing to text their friends or family members resources on how to receive treatment and stay healthy if prompted directly from the same screen they learn about their positive result – often the digital health interventions that work best are the simplest.

Med Ad News: What role will these platforms play in the future?

Bastani: What excites me the most are new ways that public health is utilizing the contact information (e.g., phone number, email, basic demographic information) they’ve received through mass COVID-19 testing and vaccination campaigns. For example, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is able to reach out to folks over the age of 65 who haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine in the last two months and let them know about the newest booster. When the right person receives the right message at the time, whether it be a reminder to get vaccinated or an alert about a local outbreak, digital health can truly make an impact.

Maria Fontanazza

Maria Fontanazza is the director of content, Med Ad News and