Apple/Stanford app guides first responders to drive-thru coronavirus tests

An app created by Stanford Medicine in partnership with Apple helps first responders get access to drive-thru coronavirus tests.

The app is currently for use by firefighters, police officers, and paramedics, but there’s hope that the program will be later made available to other key workers …

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CNBC explains how it works.

Users take a survey with questions about their symptoms. If they have symptoms suggesting COVID-19 infection, the app recommends testing. First responders can take that result to the contact at their workplace in charge of health, referred to as a ‘department infection control officer’ inside the app, and get scheduled for priority testing at a Stanford Health Care site […]

Stanford is starting with police officers, firefighters, and paramedics because they’re essential and are at high risk of catching the virus. As of April 1, more than 1,000 New York City police officers had tested positive for COVID-19, for example.

‘If we have a first responder who has symptoms, it’s really important for them to get screened and potentially test it because they’re going to be very patient-facing and very community-facing. That’s what their jobs are,’ said Dr. Bob Harrington, chairman of the Stanford Department of Medicine.

As Stanford is doing the testing, the service is currently limited to Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in California. The plan is to ramp up testing from an initial 2,500 tests per day, and then to make the app available to other counties and states.

Apple’s involvement is key to privacy, says the university.

The app uses Apple’s ResearchKit and CareKit software, which are designed to help developers handle sensitive medical data. All data from the app stays on the patient’s device unless they share it with a health provider, Stanford said.

Drive-thru coronavirus tests are designed to minimize the risk of infecting either party: those being tested, and those doing the testing.

Photo: CTGN

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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