Curbing COVID-19

In Eastern Idaho and Beyond, Virus Crisis Ramps Up Innovation

Published online: Sep 21, 2020 Articles, East Idaho Health
Viewed 648 time(s)

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, it sent many students scrambling for alternative ways to complete their requirements for graduation. A few BYU-Idaho students found a remote internship through the Research and Business Development Center in Rexburg after their on site internships were canceled. They were put into a team tasked to study COVID-19 innovations with the intent of sharing the results with the community. A common theme in the findings were solutions to problems associated with the pandemic being found in technology.

Telehealth is Here to Stay

During an interview with Kathy Mazza, a PhD. in Biomedical Informatics, she highlighted the fact that, “Crisis ramps up innovation.” The team’s findings have reaffirmed her insight, specifically in Telehealth. In a recent poll in the Idaho Falls area, 47% respondents shared that they would rather use Telehealth than go into a doctors office. 

For a routine annual check up, Michelle Artinger recently used Telehealth to connect with her daughter’s Pediatric Neurologist at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Utah. An appointment that usually took her three hours was cut to a short, ten minute visit. “We were able to get the help we needed without the hassle.”

Technology Will Be the Solution

Some may question the difficulty of getting the needed health information in a Telehealth visit. Most people have a bathroom scale, measuring tape, and thermometer to find out the basic information required. An additional item that might be required is a pulse oximeter to help read blood oxygen levels. This can easily be purchased on Amazon. 

One example of the necessity of a pulse oximeter related to COVID-19 is Celeste Borys. Celeste, a recent COVID-19 patient, used one to keep her from going into the hospital. She could check her oxygen levels at home when she had difficulty breathing and tightness in her chest, giving her the ability to confidently stay home. 

Another example of technology as a solution are Chatbots, which are helpful to both patients and physicians. Patients monitored with chatbots after being discharged from hospitals experienced a significant reduction in readmission. Through chatbot texts, patients can share symptoms, recovery progress, set up follow appointments and fill prescriptions. 

Technology could also potentially decrease wasteful use of PPE. The team found that ultraviolet (UV) light cleaning systems are being used to sanitize masks. Similar UV light products can be purchased to help sanitize your phone and keys for around $90. 

Business Adaptations

Aaron Marcum, a Professional EOS Implementer with VUE Advisors, shared a tool that he uses to work remotely with his team. It’s called Meeting Owl, a 360-degree camera that is placed on a conference room table that moves around to follow the speaker and helps remote attendees feel like they are in the meeting. It has completely changed the way he connects with customers and employees. 

The team found that businesses are either choosing to swim with the new technological current or against it. Those who embrace it are already seeing returns, and those who aren’t are drowning. Many businesses reported that they are moving online and taking advantage of the opportunity that has been presented to them. 

Changing Perspective

Corey Smith, Idaho Falls resident and former RBDC director, shared how we can use this challenge presented by COVID-19 and turn it into an opportunity. 

“I think that this opportunity that is unfolding right in front of our eyes is probably the best thing that could happen,” he says “We’re resetting a lot of the rules of life right now in the business world. What a better time for somebody with real ambition, who knows how to put their foot on the gas instead of the brake pedal.”

Having an open mindset towards advancements is important as this community moves forward. We are currently seeing and will continue to see an increase in technology like never before. One survey respondent said,  “[Technology] is blessing us as it is pushing us into the future.” Even though the ongoing pandemic brought on a lot of chaos, it also fueled multiple innovations that will remain long after the pandemic is over. 

Welcoming Innovations

The year 2020 has brought many unexpected innovations. They have unfolded in the form of having to adjust to remote working experiences, interacting with healthcare providers via Telehealth, and new technology to help with our healthcare. These innovations have helped businesses and communities connect more effectively, change perspective, and to see the current events as opportunities instead of threats. 


Click here to read more of the September issue of Idaho Falls Magazine.


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