NHS test and trace application launches in the UK
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our day to day lives in the blink of an eye, it has had a detrimental impact on many people’s mental health, so any solution that may provide a glimmer of hope is welcome, and this is the purpose of the NHS application - to get life back to “normal”.
The launch of the NHS Coronavirus contact tracing app was announced today, and Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care for the UK Government, is urging the public to download the app and in doing so, each and every person is "making the country a safer place". He then added that "Even if only two people downloaded it and they came into close contact and one had tested positive, then it would work for the other."
Scotland and Northern Ireland have already created and launched their own individual COVID-19 contact tracing applications however the development and deployment of the UK application were halted due to a growing sense of doubt around its effectiveness and reliability.
The application is available for download on iPhone and Android and works by using an Apple and Google-developed system, incorporating Bluetooth to keep an anonymous log of people that every individual user has been close to. It does this through exchanging randomised keys and the Bluetooth signal strength is able to accurately measure proximity.
If someone falls ill, they can log their symptoms the app which then tells them the likelihood that they have COVID-19, this will then activate a response from the system which entails the server pinging their individual, specific key into a central server and this then begins a search in all app users for a match.
Should the system detect that this person has a close contact, this contact will be immediately sent a notification informing them and they will then need to stay home and self isolate for 14 days.
The app comes with a QR code scanning tool which allows for individuals to check in to venues that they visit and easily share their contact details in case they come into close contact with someone who later receives a positive test result. Nearly 160,000 businesses have already downloaded unique QR codes to use, however as the application is only voluntary it is unknown how many people will download it and make use of these QR codes.
A TV advertising campaign is being used urging the general public to "Protect your loved ones. Get the app" but it is unsure how many people will opt to download the contact tracing application as there are doubts around its privacy and use of data.
Zoom enters the healthcare market - a timeline
Since the pandemic began Zoom has become an integral part of daily life for people working from home, as well as a vital tool for families and friends to communicate. However it's also been eyeing up the healthcare space since 2017, and following the boom in telehealth the company has been rolling out additional services. Here we chart Zoom's move into healthcare.
2011 - 2013
Zoom is founded in San Jose, California, by Eric Yuan, formerly of Cisco. He got the idea to create a video calling platform from his visits to his girlfriend while he was a student, which would take 10 hours by train.
A beta version is released in 2012, which can host up to 15 participants. In 2013 this rises to 25. By mid-2013, Zoom has 1 million users.
2014 - 2017
Zoom attracts investors, including Sequoia Capital, Emergence and Horizon Ventures. By January 2017, Zoom has a series D funding worth $100 million.
2017 - 2019
Zoom for Telehealth launches, including an integration with EHR system Epic. It has cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing features, a "waiting room" for patients, and can easily be integrated into healthcare provider's workflows.
In 2019 Zoom goes public, with its IPO rising 72% in one day.
As a result of the pandemic, Zoom gains 2.2 million new users, more than in the whole of 2019. On the 23rd of March alone - the day the UK lockdown was announced - the platform was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world.
Share prices rise to around $150, and founder and chief executive Eric Yuan becomes one of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
Early security issues are addressed by encrypting data with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). By now the the platform allows 99 people to be on a call simultaneously
New features launch, including Zoom Home and Zoom for Chats. Throughout the year the platform is used to replace most kinds of real life events: work meetings, online classrooms, church services and social events.
Renamed Zoom for Healthcare, users can share secured video, audio, and content through desktops, mobile phones, and conference devices. As well as Epic, it can be integrated with Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better.
It can also be used with diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes.
In an interview with Korea Biomedical Review, Zoom Global Healthcare Lead Ron Emerson said: "Our service is not simply a virtual care and telemedicine platform but a multi-purpose platform that can satisfy the needs of healthcare institutions."
"It can be used for administrative tasks, including telemedicine, medical team meetings, recruitment, medical education, employee training, and disease prevention. Analysing electronic records managed by Zoom could provide meaningful insights into patient care."
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Belfast's Hospital Services Limited, Butler Health Services and the global Project ECHO are among Zoom for Healthcare's current customers.