COVID-19 digital app

An overview of mobile applications (apps) to support the coronavirus disease-2019 response in India

Background & objectives:
The potential benefits of mobile health (mHealth) initiatives to manage the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have been explored. The Government of India, State governments, and healthcare organizations have developed various mobile apps for the containment of COVID-19. This study was aimed to systematically review COVID-19 related mobile apps and highlight gaps to inform the development of future mHealth initiatives.

Google Play and the Apple app stores were searched using the terms ‘COVID-19’, ‘coronavirus’, ‘pandemic’, and ‘epidemic’ in the first week of April 2020. A list of COVID-19-specific functions was compiled based on the review of the selected apps, the literature on epidemic surveillance, and national and international media reports. The World Health Organization guideline on Digital Health Interventions was used to classify the app functions under the categories of the general public, health workers, health system managers, and data services.

The search yielded 346 potential COVID-19 apps, of which 50 met the inclusion criteria. Dissemination of untargeted COVID-19-related information on preventative strategies and monitoring the movements of quarantined individuals was the function of 27 (54%) and 19 (32%) apps, respectively. Eight (16%) apps had a contact tracing and hotspot identification function.

Interpretation & conclusions:
Our study highlights the current emphasis on the development of self-testing, quarantine monitoring, and contact tracing apps. India’s response to COVID-19 can be strengthened by developing comprehensive mHealth solutions for frontline healthcare workers, rapid response teams and public health authorities. Among this unprecedented global health emergency, the Governments must ensure the necessary but least intrusive measures for disease surveillance