4 Tech Initiatives That Help Fight Against COVID-19March 23, 2021 No Comments
Featured article by Samuel Thompson
Whether in medicine or business, the COVID-19 pandemic has done away with the old world. The harsh reality is that it revealed a lot that’s wrong with how the world has done many things up to this point. It forced everyone to go back to the drawing board and take a hard look in the mirror.
As of this writing, over 120 million cases have been reported worldwide, with more than half now recovered. Still, it has claimed over two million lives, with one in five of them in the U.S. Countries are striving to hasten the distribution of COVID vaccines to their respective populations, all while maintaining the highest standard of preventive care.
But medicine isn’t the only one battling the COVID pandemic. Various industries have contributed to the ongoing struggle, changing the world for the better. Here are some of the notable initiatives taking a stand against the deadliest pandemic since the Spanish flu.
1. 3D-Printed PPE
In the opening months, the pandemic has revealed and exacerbated a problem that’s been going on for years: a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). As early as March 2020, the World Health Organization has raised the alarm about healthcare workers lacking adequate PPE because of the current supply going to panic buying and hoarding among the public. When COVID finally hit in force, doctors and other medical personnel are left begging for crucial PPE.
In response, the 3D printing community pooled its resources to produce masks and other forms of PPE. One Oregon-based group manufactured 3D-printed and laser-cut face shields for healthcare workers in the state and some parts of the Pacific Northwest.
Another example is the National Institutes of Health and its 3D Print Exchange system, an open-source repository of PPE designs 3D printing groups can use. All the designs there have undergone clinical review, the lack of which was a concern that initially limited adoption of 3D-printed PPE.
2. 503B Logistics
The supply of crucial drugs all but depleted as healthcare systems worldwide struggled to contain the disease. Sedatives such as fentanyl and hydromorphone increased in demand, but with pharma companies focused on developing vaccines, supply failed to keep up. Even today, when countries are slowly regaining control, some drug shortages have yet to be addressed.
As such, hospitals and medical facilities looked to an unusual source: 503B outsourcing facilities. A spinoff of traditional drug compounding, 503B facilities are ‘hybrid’ compounding pharmacies that can produce compounded drugs in large quantities. In a way, drawing from this source, they bridge the gap between the compounding and drug manufacturing models.
Partnerships with these services and their automated manufacturing systems allow a steady supply of critical drugs and instruments. Keeping human contact to a minimum enables them to guarantee the sterility of their products. Shifting priorities is also easier since automated production requires little retooling.
Experts believe that work-from-home setups will remain the norm even as the world comes out of the pandemic anew. Business owners understand the risks involved with a return to an office-based setting. For this, they look to technology for long-term solutions.
One example is cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP). This system allows businesses to access real-time information on supply chain and employee tracking, among other aspects. With the right software and an adequate computer and internet connection to run it, employees can utilize cloud-based ERP to significant effect without ever going to the office.
It’s expected that the pandemic will accelerate the evolution of cloud-based ERP, from enhancing real-time data gathering to resource planning and management. But these changes won’t affect its feature of upholding social distancing.
4. Contactless Payments
Although businesses still accept cash as a mode of payment, the preference has shifted to a digital form. Credit cards and e-wallets, among other examples, had seen widespread use among consumers even before the start of the pandemic. In electronic form, these systems enjoy the benefit of limiting physical contact, as there’s no wad of cash to give or receive.
Nevertheless, these systems haven’t grown large enough to phase out paper money. According to the World Bank, around 1.7 billion people worldwide don’t have a bank account, let alone access to a bank. They also require a reliable internet connection, which is more addressable considering that the new 5G rollout has been slowly rolling out.
As soon as this crisis ends, the world can never return to what it once was. Hard lessons would be learned, and new technologies would become industry standards. Regardless, these developments are essential to help the world move forward and perhaps prevent another crisis of this scale.
Samuel Thompson has years of IT consultancy background dealing with outsourcing companies. He had been invited to several seminars as an IT resource person and have written several articles related to the industry in magazines and online platforms.
Despite his busy schedule, Samuel finds time to balance his career and family life. He is happily married and has two lovely daughters. Samuel loves sports, travel, and music. During his free time, he plays basketball and takes a vacation with his family.
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