Why an agile monitoring and management system is the need of the hour
The world is seeing unprecedented times. Two relentless years of a pandemic is enough to break even the strongest healthcare systems, that along with the current efforts to ramp up vaccinations and clinical care has resulted in most countries public health system being strained or barely functional. Such accelerated development and roll out of multiple vaccines, is a first for any disease.It is important that each of these vaccines and its effects are monitored for substantial periods of time to understand short term and long-term effects on varying demographic and risk factor profiles of vaccine recipients.
What is Active Vaccine Safety Surveillance (AVSS)?
The traditional surveillance systems in most countries, rely heavily on health care providers to notify the adverse events. This is a passive surveillance system that helps in detecting unsolicited adverse events Vaccine Survey is another conventional method, but the disadvantage is that it usually is a cross sectional survey with only a one time follow up. One of the ways to augment these traditionalsurveillance systems is to empower the vaccine recipient using smartphone based digital tools. AVSS or Active Vaccine Safety Surveillance systems helps by proactively enrolling many vaccine recipients who are followed up for all minor and major adverse events. This can significantly alleviate the burdens off frontline workers, while capturing large amount of data, frequently and in a timely fashion. Besides allowing the healthcare systems to address immediate or delayed adverse events, this has the potential to monitor the health of the community in the long term as well.
Policy formulation has also been extremely difficult for governments and world organisations given the novelty of the disease. This solution could allow for faster data driven decision making empowering governments and policy makers in a way that only technology can.
Need for AVSS in Covid-19
Post Vaccine monitoring: Before COVID–19, vaccines used to be licensed after 4-15years of rigorous clinical trials. With the fast-tracked development of COVID-19 vaccines, there is a likelihood that some of the rare and long-term adverse events may have gone undetected in the clinical trials. Through AVSS via phone, the vaccine recipients can be monitored for a period ranging from 07 days up to 12 months, getting real time alerts for any serious adverse events following immunization (AEFI)or Adverse Events of Special Interest (AESI). By automating this process, we have successfully tracked the symptoms fast enough to be of actionable value; the healthcare worker getting involved only if necessary.
Large Data collection and Analysis: we need interoperable systems that can harmonise data from multiple sites, with a validated AI algorithm to measure the risk of AEFIs and their early indicators. The system will need to be agile and scalableto work in varying resource settings.
Country-level Surveillance: There must be a centralised dashboard for policy makersand regulatory authorities to visualize community vaccine uptake statistics, AEFI patterns and efficacies.
qScout for AVSS monitoring
qScout is Qure.ai’s Artificial Intelligence and NLP-powered solution that improves vaccine recipient’s experience while augmenting traditional surveillance systems forindividual’s health monitoring. It has a smartphone-based component for easy interaction between the recipient and public health professionals.
How can qScout be used for active surveillance and monitoring of vaccinees?
Step 1: Walk-in/registered individuals at COVID-19 vaccination sites will be enrolled using qScout EMR by recording the following details :
- Personal Identifiers
- Risk groups
- Medication history
- Name and details of the vaccine administered.
Step 2: Once the enrollment is completed, the vaccinated person receives a message on the mobile for their consent. Follow-up messages will be sent for a set period to check for any adverse/unexpected symptoms (AEFIs or AESI). The person will also be reminded about the second dose. Every enrolled individual will be monitored for a predefined period , as per the guidelines of the proposed project.
Step 3: Public health officials who have access to the data can see the analysis of the AEFIs OR AESIs on a real time dashboard The information will be segregated based on demographics, type of vaccine administered, count of individuals administered with dose 1 and/or dose 2 as well as percent drop-out between both the doses.
Benefits of Real-time remote patient monitoring after vaccination
- Early and timely detection and notification of serious AEFIs or AESIs
- Detection of rare and unknown adverse events, that may have not been detected during the clinical trials
- Recipient risk profiling and Predictive adverse events scoring or modelling
- Long term adverse effects of vaccination
- Identifying re-infection probabilities and severity
- Monitoring of Vaccine administration SOP adherence and Pharmacovigilance/ Post Market Surveillance for vaccine manufacturer
Country wide contact tracing and remote patient management: A Case Study
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the qScout platform was adopted for national contact tracing and management mechanism by Ministry of Health in Oman. Within a span of a few weeks, qScout was integrated with Tarassud plus, the country’s ICT platform for surveillance and monitoring. qScout used AI chatbot customised to the local languages and engaged with confirmed cases capturing their primary and secondary symptoms. The AI engine analysed the information and provided insights enabling virtual triaging and timely escalation for medical requirements. Over a span of 8 moths, approximately 400,000 Covid-19 patients under quarantine in Oman regularly interacted with a software for over thousands of sessions taking off a significant proportion of healthcare workers’ burden. All this while the health authorities and government actively kept a watch centrally to monitor hotspot regions, areas needing additional resources and so on. Having qScout enabled with multi-lingual support in English as well as Arabic helped increase the ease of interaction for various users.
The software was deployed with a gadget that relayed instant reports to the competent authorities about the movements and locations that a quarantined or infected person visits. It also had the capability to send alerts if this person left their location or tried taking it off. This level of data collection allowed sharing relevant insights with the Ministry of Health about population level statistics vital for planning for resources. This coupled with Qure.ai’s qSCOUT, was a true exemplar of use of technology to tackle the pandemic.
There are multiple studies that are ongoing with regional and state governments as well as non-governmental organizations. qScout is designed as a platform for monitoring safety and efficacy of all adult and pediatric vaccines and medications.