Document Type : Original Article
Non-Communicable Diseases Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Population Sciences Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Center for Communicable Diseases Control, Ministry of Health & Medical Education, Tehran, Iran
School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Digestive Diseases Research Center, Digestive Diseases Research Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinical Sciences Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
The most recent emerging infectious disease, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is pandemic now. Iran is a country with community transmission of the disease. Telehealth tools have been proved to be useful in controlling public health disasters. We developed an online self-screening platform to offer a population-wide strategy to control the massive influx to medical centers.
We developed a platform operating based on given history by participants, including sex, age, weight, height, location, primary symptoms and signs, and high risk past medical histories. Based on a decision-making algorithm, participants were categorized into four levels of suspected cases, requiring diagnostic tests, supportive care, not suspected cases. We made comparisons with Iran STEPs (STEPwise approach to Surveillance) 2016 study and data from the Statistical Centre of Iran to assess population representativeness of data. Also, we made a comparison with officially confirmed cases to investigate the effectiveness of the platform. A multilevel mixed-effects Poisson regression was used to check the association of visiting platform and deaths caused by COVID-19.
About 310 000 individuals participated in the online self-screening platform in 33 days. The majority of participants were in younger age groups, and males involved more. A significant number of participants were screened not to be suspected or needing supportive care, and only 10.4% of males and 12.0% of females had suspected results of COVID-19. The penetration of the platform was assessed to be acceptable. A correlation coefficient of 0.51 was calculated between suspected results and confirmed cases of the disease, expressing the platform’s effectiveness.
Implementation of a proper online self-screening tool can mitigate population panic during wide-spread epidemics and relieve massive influx to medical centers. Also, an evidence-based education platform can help fighting infodemic. Noticeable utilization and verified effectiveness of such platform validate the potency of telehealth tools in controlling epidemics and pandemics.