COVID-19 has changed the way we work, do business, interact with each other, and use technology. One of the biggest pandemic issues currently in the technology space is contact tracing. Contact tracing involves the identification of a person who is infected with a contagion, tracking the people they may have come into contact with, and the further collection of data about these specific contacts. In the case of a pandemic like this one, contact tracing is a vital tool in helping stem exposure and fight the spread of disease. But what is the relationship between technology and contact tracing?

The current pandemic represents a major step forward in technology in regards to contact tracing. Most of the assorted issues and arguments can he boiled down into the two major types of technology tools being leveraged right now.

Case Management Tools

Case management tools are those technology platforms used to help manually gather information and trace contacts. These types of tools are often critical to telemedicine efforts and allow medical personnel to maintain a safe distance while seeing an increased number of patients. Case management tools are capable of handling two-way communication between doctor and patient, scheduling necessary tests/appointments, and establishing the investigative framework for epidemiological contact tracing.

These tools have very little controversy surrounding them as they are designed to comply with HIPAA and stringent security protocols. In fact, tools like these are being praised, and seeing new growth as increased use leads to better development. What we are seeing here is an incredible shift in how medicine is practiced and case management, for a number of conditions is handled.

 

Proximity/Exposure Notification Tools

The more controversial part of technology in contact tracing deals with an assortment of initiatives to provide active proximity tracing and alerts in regards to pandemic patients. These tools would use GPS and Bluetooth capabilities, combined with access to basic medical information, to aid in some of the more limiting factors of traditional contact tracing. Using these tools, a user would be notified if they were in proximity to someone with the disease in question, and be able to take action accordingly for their safety. This would additionally collect the data of the individual and record them as a specific potential contact.

While these tools are potentially game0changing, there are a number of questions related to them. Data security and privacy are paramount concerns as these tools would have an incredible amount of access to information. Additionally, they would be dependent upon the possession of a device that could use them and are not infallible in their ability to be avoided.

For more information regarding current methods of contact tracing, take a look at the CDC website here.

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