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From Monitoring COVID Patients At Home To Giving Medical Advice, Here's How Punjab Used Technology In The Fight Against COVID-19

Punjab was among the worst hit states in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with high positivity and fatality rates. At a time when the pandemic had hit Punjab the hardest, the biggest challenge for state authorities was tracing and testing patients, monitoring the number of cases and the availability of essential medical items. During this dire health emergency, the government of Punjab relied on technology to try and reach every infected patient with proper medical guidance.

A COVID Control Room was set up in Chandigarh, as the hub of COVID management in the state. Besides assessing the state wise caseload, the control room by the state government also connected health experts with COVID patients in home isolation through a WhatsApp chatbot.

Talking about the role of the COVID Control Room, Ajoy Sharma, Principal Secretary, Department Of Local Government, Punjab told NDTV,

The COVID Control Room is where we coordinate all the operations on the field. We assign a doctor to the patient. We send the patient a message with the name of the doctor assigned to them, and vice versa. Patients can send their vitals and be advised treatment. We analyse the information here as well to further assist them.

Through the WhatsApp chatbot, the Punjab government reached out to multiple COVID-19 patients like Balbir Singh and his wife. Sharing the experience of undergoing COVID treatment via chatbot, Mr Singh said,

We would talk to them on WhatsApp. We were given instructions on what to do via the chatbot. We would take the medicines as prescribed and that is how we recovered.

A technology-driven interface between the government and its citizens that provided much needed medical guidance to people in their time of need.

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