Crowdsourcing platform could have long-term staying power
Launch Tennessee CEO Margaret Dolan
Like most states, Tennessee has responded to the coronavirus crisis by connecting its business community with people in need. One effort in the aptly named Volunteer State is a crowdsourcing platform that connects businesses with facilities in need of personal protective equipment, resource mapping, and even sleeping quarters for healthcare workers.
Once the crisis is over, leaders hope the platform can continue to be useful to the business community, especially those harmed by the pandemic. As many small businesses face bankruptcy, officials would like to pivot and use the platform to share information and network.
Launch Tennessee CEO Margaret Dolan said, “Our business recovery is extraordinarily important. Having a mechanism in place where people can raise their hand and trade off information I think is going to be a real source of important business, especially these younger companies that need to drive top-line revenue to get on their feet.”
Resource portal for manufacturers joining the coronavirus fight
It's all hands on deck in the ongoing fight against coronavirus. The state of Pennsylvania is helping answer the call with a newly launched Manufacturing Call to Action Portal, a central online hub for manufacturers that are currently producing, or those capable of transitioning swiftly to producing, life-saving medical supplies.
Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) secretary Dennis Davin noted, “[W]e know there are manufacturers across the commonwealth who are willing and able to help. This portal will help facilitate the connections businesses need to get COVID-19 related products to market or retrofit their operations to begin production of those products.”
The portal, launched in early April by Governor Tom Wolf, is a public-private partnership with principal industry players across the Keystone State.
How some co-working spaces deal with social distancing
Co-working is the antithesis of social distancing and self-isolating. So it’s not surprising that the coronavirus has hit co-working spaces just as it’s hit restaurants and other public venues—with the suspension (or in some cases, the demise) of business operations.
But some co-working outfits have refused to throw in the towel, responding instead with innovative solutions to keep patrons connected, productive, and engaged—just not gathered in the physical working space.
Columbus is a prime example:
“Work experience” company Hopewell plans to host remote work sessions with DJs providing live music, keeping members on track and supporting local musicians at the same time.
Cova Cowork has created a virtual community, with lunch & learn programs, workout sessions and yoga classes, and facilitated online discussions.
And COhatch has launched COhatch Delivers, marshaling dozens of volunteers to deliver food and supplies to those in need, as well as organizing several other community support projects.
The initiative was developed by Cahoots co-founder Joe Malcoun, and he and his wife got the program rolling with a $25,000 donation. A2 Helps reported on Twitter that it raised more than $150K in the week following its launch.
The platform works like this.
A2 Helps takes in donations from the community and buys gift cards from local retailers and restaurants. Then, partnering with St. Joe’s Hospital and Michigan Medicine, it sends healthcare professionals a redeemable code worth $100. Once the recipients decide where they want to make purchases, they receive ecards for the businesses they selected.
The smart glasses could be particularly useful for delivering remote care to patients in long-term care facilities (LTCs) during the pandemic. The glasses, worn by an onsite healthcare provider, can connect to the attending physician via Zoom, enabling the doctor to directly interact with the patient in real time.
Toni Ganzel, MD, dean of the UofL School of Medicine, said the glasses are key to the advancement of telemedicine. “The timing had to be right for this technology to become more accepted. It will be a big part of health care moving forward, even after this swell with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will be exciting to see some of our current medical residents incorporate telemedicine into their future practices.”
The company, which provides document translation, transcription, and voiceover translation services “in the majority of written languages,” has switched to a different approach. Although Access already offered remote translation services, the method involved connecting a translator in one location to people in another. Now, the participants are all in separate spots—raising a number of connectivity, security, and privacy concerns.
In response, Access retooled its technology to accommodate the social distancing scenario via HIPAA/HITECH-compliant platforms that Microsoft administers.
Company president and CEO Yana Schottenstein said the new model has enabled Access to continue to provide communications services despite the pandemic. “We are excited to have added a selection of technology solutions that digitally projects our interpreters wherever they are needed, keeping our customers close to their clients during these wide-reaching social distancing restrictions.”
Blind dating while socially distancing
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, new ways are popping up to help people connect and interact while maintaining social distance. Case in point: An enterprising pair of entrepreneurs have taken inspiration from the Netflix reality show Love Is Blind (you know, the one where singles get engaged before they even meet in person?) to develop KC Blind Love: Quarantined Edition.
Why not give it a shot? As Sivils said, “We are here to bring you the opportunity to maybe find your ‘quarantine boo.’”
Telehealth for Fido
COVID-19 has brought a boost to telehealth, both by encouraging healthcare providers to step up their games and by prompting many patients to try it for the first time. So why not bring this technology to animals?
That’s exactly what VetNOW, a Pittsburgh veterinary telemedicine company, and Eli Lilly offshoot Elanco are teaming up to do. Just because humans need to socially isolate doesn’t mean that pets stop having medical needs. So the two companies are providing veterinarians with access to telemedicine services, which keeps animals healthy and helps stop the spread of the virus among humans.
VetNOW is available as an iPhone app and on the web. If a veterinarian is not in the system, there is a way to invite them to join. Using the system, pet owners can share photos, documents, and videos to help the veterinarian make a diagnosis. Just as with human healthcare, doctors expect veterinarian telehealth to remain popular long after the virus fades.
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