Airports in Paris and Singapore as well as airlines including United and JetBlue are experimenting with apps that verify travelers are Covid-free before boarding. WSJ visits an airport in Rome to see how a digital health passport works. Photo credit: AOKpass
A number of start-ups and major tech companies like Microsoft, Ticketmaster, Apple, and Google are interested in vaccine or immunization passports to help reopen the economy. But public health officials are weary, warning the apps are pointless without more knowledge about the efficacy of the vaccines. Watch the video above to learn more about digital vaccine verifications and how you could possibly prove your immunity to coronavirus before attending an event or entering a building.
In the coming weeks, major airlines including United, JetBlue and Lufthansa plan to introduce a health passport app, called CommonPass, that aims to verify passengers’ virus test results — and soon, vaccinations. The app will then issue confirmation codes enabling passengers to board certain international flights. It is just the start of a push for digital Covid-19 credentials that could soon be embraced by employers, schools, summer camps and entertainment venues.
The advent of electronic vaccination credentials could have a profound effect on efforts to control the coronavirus and restore the economy. They could prompt more employers and college campuses to reopen. They may also give some consumers peace of mind, developers say, by creating an easy way for movie theaters, cruise ships and sports arenas to admit only those with documented coronavirus vaccinations.
The CommonPass, IBM and Clear apps, for instance, allow users to download their virus test results — and soon their vaccinations — to their smartphones. The apps can then check the medical data and generate unique confirmation codes that users can show at airports or other locations to confirm their health status.
But the health passes do not share specific details — like where and when a user was tested — with airlines or employers, developers said. The QR codes, they said, act merely as a kind of green light, clearing users for entry.
From McKinsey & Company (June 15, 2020):
As travel companies redesign their traveler experiences to address risks and anxieties related to COVID-19, they should remember that the pain points and trends that existed before the crisis—such as the shift toward a more digital and personalized journey, and an increased emphasis on wellness and sustainability—have not gone away.
Many initiatives can make the travel experience simultaneously better and safer. Housekeeping services, for instance, will need to adjust for safety concerns, but revised protocols can also reduce environmental impact (such as through less-frequent laundering of sheets during each stay), decrease cost, and give guests more flexibility (by letting them choose their own housekeeping schedule).
Companies should empower customers to build their own itinerary using smarter, connected digital tools and make it easier for them to modify or cancel their plans. In addition, companies must recognize that the factors that promote customer loyalty may now have shifted; near-term uncertainty may mean, for example, that the ability to cancel a reservation matters more than brand choice or price.
From a “Circulation: Heart Failure” Journal study (Feb 25, 2020):
The study shows that wearable sensors coupled with machine learning analytics have predictive accuracy comparable to implanted devices.
We demonstrate that machine learning analytics using data from a wearable sensor can accurately predict hospitalization for heart failure exacerbation…at a median time of 6.5 days before the admission.
Heart failure (HF) is a major public health problem affecting >23 million patients worldwide. Hospitalization costs for HF represent 80% of costs attributed to HF care. Thus, accurate and timely detection of worsening HF could allow for interventions aimed at reducing the risk of HF admission.
Several such approaches have been tested. Tracking of daily weight, as recommended by current HF guidelines, did not lead to reduction of the risk of HF hospitalization, most likely because the weight gain is a contemporaneous or lagging indicator rather than a leading event. Interventions based on intrathoracic impedance monitoring also did not result in reduction of readmission risk. The results suggest that physiological parameters other than weight or intrathoracic impedance in isolation may be needed to detect HF decompensation in a timely manner. In fact, 28% reduction of rehospitalization rates has been shown with interventions based on pulmonary artery hemodynamic monitoring. More recently, in the MultiSENSE study (Multisensor Chronic Evaluation in Ambulatory HF Patients), an algorithm based on physiological data from sensors in the implantable cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators, was shown to have 70% sensitivity in predicting the risk of HF hospitalization or outpatient visit with intravenous therapies for worsening of HF.
From a Becker’s Hospital Review release (02/19/2020):
Amazon’s virtual medical clinic that offers in-person follow-ups is now available to Amazon employees in Seattle.
Five things to know:
1. The virtual medical service, called Amazon Care, went live via the company’s employee benefits portal on Feb. 18. It is available to Amazon employees who work at the company’s headquarters and their dependents.
2. Amazon Care offers employees virtual medical consultations with physicians and nurse practitioners. Patients can use the app to schedule a follow-up visit in their home or office.
3. Medications prescribed via Amazon Care can be delivered to a patient’s home.
4. “Amazon Care eliminates travel and wait time, connecting employees and their family members to a physician or nurse practitioner through live chat or video, with the option for in-person follow up services from a registered nurse ranging from immunizations to instant strep throat detection,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC.
5. Amazon first shared information about Amazon Care in September, noting that it planned to pilot the service in Seattle.
Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg (Feb 19, 2020):
Many Americans are willing to make significant personal tradeoffs to lower their health insurance rates or medical costs, such as agreeing to 24/7 personal monitoring or working with artificial intelligence instead of a human doctor, the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism finds.
Among the study’s findings:
- Nearly 1 in 4 Americans (24%) would work with an artificial intelligence-based technology if it lowered the cost of their health care.
- Most Americans (80%) think that access to health care is a basic right that should be available to all citizens regardless of their ability to pay. This is a view shared even by a majority of citizens who identify themselves as very conservative (56%).
- Significant percentages of Americans are willing to make profound lifestyle choices in exchange for lower insurance rates. For example, one-third of Americans would agree to 24/7 personal monitoring by insurance companies or health care professionals if their insurance rates were reduced.
- Twenty-one percent of Americans said they would stay in their current job if leaving it meant losing their current health coverage.
- Almost all Americans say health care is a key issue in the 2020 presidential election (92%).
- Even though Americans say they are satisfied with their current health insurance, they are open to alternatives. Thirty percent of Americans would consider buying health coverage from any company that offers lower costs, including a variety of non-insurance companies such as Amazon, Google, or Costco.