An online COVID-19 symptom tracking tool developed by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center ensures a person’s confidentiality while being able to actively monitor their symptoms. The tool is not proprietary and can be used by entities that are not able to develop their own tracking systems.
Identifying and monitoring people infected with COVID-19, or exposed to people with infection, is critical to preventing widespread transmission of the disease. Details of the COVID19 Symptom Tracker and a pilot study were published August 13, 2020, in the Journal of Medical Information Research (JMIR).
“One of the major impediments to tracking people with, or at risk of, COVID-19 has been an assurance of privacy and confidentiality,” says infectious disease expert Seble G. Kassaye, MD, MS, lead author and associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Our online system provides a method for efficient, active monitoring of large numbers of individuals under quarantine or home isolation, while maintaining privacy.”
The Georgetown internet tool assigns a unique identifier as people enter their symptoms and other relevant demographic data. One function in the system allows institutions to generate reports about items on which people can act, such as symptoms that might require medical attention. Additionally, people using the system are provided with information and links to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 recommendations and instructions for how people with symptoms should seek care.
Development of the system was rapid—it took five days to design. The joint project included Georgetown University’s J.C. Smart, Ph.D., chief scientist of AvesTerra, a knowledge management environment that supports data integration and synthesis to identify actionable events and maintain privacy, and Georgetown’s vice president for research and chief technology officer, Spiros Dimolitsas, Ph.D.
“We knew that time was of the essence and the challenges