Emory Helps Build Free Online Tool to Assess COVID-19 Risk
By Emory University
Emory doctors have helped create a new online tool allowing people everywhere to assess how likely it is that they have contracted the novel coronavirus.
C19check.com makes it easy for the general public to self-triage and is designed, in part, to prevent a surge of patients at hospitals and healthcare facilities.
The free tool was designed by Vital software with guidance from Emory Department of Emergency Medicine‘s Health DesignED Center and the Emory Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response.
The site is for educational purposes and not a replacement for a healthcare provider evaluation.
“We’re all fighting, in ways big and small, to keep our loved ones out of harm’s reach. But the anxiety and uncertainty around the best way to do that can result in crowded emergency departments that will have difficulty managing the surge,” says Justin Schrager, emergency medicine physician at Emory University Hospital and co-founder of Vital. “Our goal with C19check.com is to prevent that from happening, while also making it super simple for people to understand and follow CDC guidelines.”
C19check.com acts as an easy way to digest expert information and choose the best plan of action. Based on the answers to questions about signs and symptoms, age and other medical problems, a person is directed to guidance based on CDC guidelines and is placed into one of three categories:
- high risk (needs immediate medical attention),
- intermediate risk (can contact their doctor for guidance about how to best manage their illness),
- low risk (can most likely administer self-care or recover at home).
In any case, the person is never dissuaded from seeking professional medical advice or contacting their healthcare provider for more guidance.
“Doctors know that crowded waiting rooms could make the problem worse because people sick with Covid-19 could infect others, speeding the overall rate of infection,” says Dr. Alex Isakov, executive director of Emory University Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, and co-author of the SORT algorithm. “Keeping stress off the system and limiting exposure for at-risk populations is going to be key to managing the community spread of COVID-19.”
The site is live and will be available for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. It was built as a public service and is completely free. It is available on any computer, and can be used by medical professionals or lay people. It collects no personal information. It makes the company no money. Users can opt to share a zip code to contribute to research tracking the geographic spread and eventual recovery from the pandemic.
“We designed this tool as a way for the public to have something user friendly and evidence based to assess their risk and help guide them to the necessary next steps,” says Dr. Anna Quay Yaffee, assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine Section at Emory University School of Medicine. “We want people who are low risk to have some cautious reassurance, and those who are at higher risk to know how to seek care and get more information.”
“The goal of this tool is to empower individuals, to better understand CDC guidance, and help to inform them about whether they should stay at home, seek medical care or go to the hospital,” says Dr. David Wright, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. “We understand the public is concerned about the pandemic, about their signs and symptoms. They want guidance and we built this as a resource to help guide their actions, with easy to use, accessible information.”
The site, built at Emory’s Health DesignED Center with Dr. Alex Isakov, executive director of Emory CEPAR, and co-author of the SORT algorithm; and Dr. David Wright, chair of the Emory Emergency Department; Dr. Anna Quay Yaffee, assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine Section at Emory University School of Medicine; and Dr. Justin Schrager, emergency medicine physician at Emory University Hospital. It is powered by Vital, launched last year to help offset the already overloaded work of Emergency Departments. Founded by Dr. Justin Schrager and Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com. With the rise of COVID-19, Justin and Aaron foresaw an overload of ERs worldwide, sought a tool to help patients better self-triage before burdening hospitals, and found none. They diverted all of Vital’s resources into building C19check.com, tapped world-renowned clinical experts to help, and hope that the tool will both help alleviate the mounting burden on the global healthcare system, and aid researchers in tracking the spread and evolution of the pandemic over time.