From Iceland — New App Aims To Ease COVID-19 Healthcare Crisis In Iceland

New App Aims To Ease COVID-19 Healthcare Crisis In Iceland

Published April 3, 2020

Poppy Askham
Photo by
Sidekick Health

An app that will help doctors and nurses cope with the burden of COVID-19 on the Icelandic healthcare system will soon be released. Icelandic healthcare tech company Sidekick health and several other companies including CCP have worked together to create a remote care platform that will allow COVID-19 patients to update health authorities on their symptoms from their homes.

Once a patient tests positive for COVID-19 and begins isolating at home, they will be texted a link to download the app. There, users will be required to complete a symptom checklist twice a day and based on that, the system’s algorithm will suggest their risk level. Healthcare workers will then review the information and confirm the patient’s risk status. Health professionals will be able to send advice remotely, call the patient, send an ambulance to their home or discharge them from the monitoring programme. Users of the app will also have access to large amounts of educational material on the virus.

According to Sidekick’s website: “Healthcare professionals (HCPs) remotely monitor and manage a large number of patients and are called to action as needed, saving countless hours of phone calls for symptom evaluation, focusing their resources on the most urgent cases.”

The system has been trialled recently by several patients in Iceland and it is hoped that the app will be available to the public within the next few days, Fréttablaðið reports.

As reported, the worsening COVID-19 pandemic is putting the Icelandic health system under considerable strain. Demands on nurses and doctors are steadily increasing alongside the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. “It’s a great relief to have a ready-made system that has the ability to grow with the crisis” says Ragnar Freyr Ingvarsson, Landspítali’s head of COVID-19 outpatient care. Ragnar was one of several specialists from the hospital who were consulted by the app’s developers. “This system will save us costs, but it will also improve the quality of supervision, patient safety and access to healthcare professionals most in need,” he explains.

Many months worth of work on the app were achieved in just ten days, due to the concerted efforts of Sidekick health and its many partners in the project. The Icelandic Directorate of Heath and Civil Defence office have also helped clear the way for the app’s imminent roll out.

Sidekick health’s CEO Tryggvi Þorgeirsson has been amazed at the speed of progress. Speaking to Fréttablaðið, he said, “Our team, led by Ólafur Viggósson, the development manager, immediately went full-time, working well into the evening and has worked almost every hour since. I have never witnessed anything like it. On the first weekend I also called Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP, who decided almost immediately to offer the help of a group of web developers.” He also noted that the digital healthcare systems Sidekick health has been developing over the last six years “simplified the project a lot” by providing a “solid foundation to build upon.”

As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.

Tune into our daily COVID-Cast for a deeper dive into the day’s developments.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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