How technology is affecting the response to coronavirus
As the coronavirus epidemic teeters on the brink of being declared a pandemic, we take a look at the part technology is playing, good and bad.
The primary method of transmission has been the return of infected travelers from countries and areas where the virus is present. Consequently, the screening of passengers has become vitally important, with China in particular employing controversial so-called ‘temperature guns’ to check for fever, a key indicator of coronavirus.
Scientists and doctors, meanwhile, are racing to find a cure or treatment for those infected with the disease. An important tool, and one that prevents the infection of healthcare professionals, is telemedicine. That might involve the use of robots to deliver medicines or food, or remote diagnosis through videos and other sensors to limit exposure.
For those in isolation, meanwhile, the connectivity of modern technology offers a vital lifeline to the real world. In China, the epicentre of the outbreak and consequently the worst affected, messaging and social media apps like Weibo and WeChat have been sources of morale boosting viral videos and ideas about what to do whilst quarantined.
It’s not all sunshine and roses for technology’s role in the outbreak, however, with social media culpable for the spreading of malicious rumours about the virus’ origin, spread and potential cures. Those rumours have even been given a name by the WHO: an “infodemic”. Consequently, a number of social media giants have announced targeted programs to stop the misinformation, including Facebook, which has announced a ban on advertisements promising to cure the disease.
In less important but still noteworthy news, coronavirus itself is also having a knock on effect on tech companies’ bottom-line, chiefly due to the interruption of supply chains. Apple’s schedule for the manufacture of its latest iPhones has been affected, while Microsoft has been forced into issuing a financial warning.
As coronavirus continues to spread, with worrying further outbreaks across Europe, technology is sure to have a significant part to play in this ongoing drama.
NHS care homes are better than private, report finds
A new survey has found that 60% of people with parents in NHS care homes believe the quality of care has improved, compared to just 49% of respondents with parents in private care facilities.
The survey was conducted by Kepler Vision Technologies, an AI-driven company formed at the University of Amsterdam. It was carried out among UK adults with parents over the age of 75.
Respondents cited more capable care staff and better monitoring systems as being the main reasons for improvement.
However those who do not have parents in assisted living facilities had a different viewpoint - in this case only 35% of respondents believe that NHS facilities are improving, compared to 32% who believe it is only improving in the private sector.
Only 18% of people whose parents live with them or independently believe care home staff are able to look after residents to a good standard.
Kepler Vision say this difference in opinion is due to perceived budget cuts and financial pressures, with 67% of people commenting that a lack of funding has had a negative effect on care in both NHS and private care facilities.
Other key findings of the survey include:
* Out of those who say quality has declined in care homes, 69% say the NHS is dealing with budget cuts and increased financial pressure, while 65% also said that the private system is dealing with these pressures too
* 55% said that they or their parent have money saved specifically to pay for their future care
* 35% said the idea of their parent in a care home makes them feel frightened, although 32% say it makes them feel secure
* 52% are worried about their parent catching COVID
* 47% are worried about their parent being lonely
* 46% are concerned they could fall over alone
The announcement of this research follows the UK government's decision to delay presenting its social care budget till the autumn.
Commenting on the research, Dr Harro Stokman, CEO of Kepler Vision Technologies said: “While it is good to see that people recognise the importance of staff and face-to-face interaction in elderly care, the huge gap in opinion between those with parents in care and those without shows that there are unfair negative perceptions around the residential care space.
"More can and should be done by care homes to give people the confidence that their relatives will receive the very best care - by highlighting the excellent work of staff and how well they are able to monitor resident’s needs with easy-to-use technology.”