A framework for IT-based management against COVID-19 in Iran | BMC Public Health


This study conducts a comprehensive literature review to demonstrate the capabilities of IT to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. A conceptual framework for an information technology-based pandemic response is proposed based on a review of the literature and expert knowledge (see Figures 2 and 3). Iran’s practical experience shows that various IT types and capabilities have not been used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Computer applications used against the COVID-19 epidemic are classified into six main themes in our proposed framework, namely: (1) Prevention, (2) Diagnosis, (3) Treatment, (4) Monitoring, (5) Management and (6) Protection.

Technologies promoted for prevention purposes include M-health [4, 9, 16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28]Internet Search Query, Telehealth [9, 13, 17, 20, 22, 29,30,31,32,33]robots [9, 13, 16, 23, 29, 30]IoT [9, 23, 29, 30, 34,35,36]AI [16, 23, 29, 30, 35, 37,38,39,40,41,42,43]big data analysis [4, 29, 30, 35, 42, 44]and social networks [13, 17, 21, 29]. Mobile health, internet search queries and social media have all been used in Iran during the current pandemic. According to a study, virtual reality, robotics, infection control systems and AI methods should be taken into account more during prevention [9]. Additionally, their findings indicated that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no pre-crisis efforts directed toward COVID-19 prevention. Strategic planning is needed to maximize Iranian IT capabilities to contain the spread of the epidemic.

Various technologies have been considered to aid in the diagnosis of COVID-19, the most important of which are M-health [9, 16,17,18,19,20,21,22, 24, 27, 28, 31, 47]Telehealth [9, 17, 20, 22, 30, 31, 33]AI [23, 29, 30, 37,38,39,40, 42, 43, 48,49,50]drone [29]IoT [4, 9, 23, 30, 34, 36]and robots [9, 16, 29]. AI, web-based genome sleuths, telehealth, M-health, IoT, surveillance systems, robotics and DSS have all been used to diagnose and detect COVID patients, study finds -19 until July 2020 [9]. Ye et al. (2020) reported that AI-based scenarios, such as drones, smart diagnosis (e.g. deep learning-based computer-aided diagnostic system), temperature sensing (e.g. , airport infrared thermal cameras) and robots (e.g. decontamination, drug delivery, and vital signs assessment), have been critical in detecting and diagnosing COVID-19 in China [14]. In Iran, e-health is used to diagnose those infected or suspected of being infected, while a chest CT scan is used to diagnose COVID-9. However, many IT potentials have not been used for diagnostic purposes in this country; therefore, additional opportunities for using informatics for diagnostic purposes are needed in this country. For example, AI should be used to determine the severity of COVID-19 (see Fig. 3).

By providing various services, IT has helped to treat the disease COVID-19. We understand that effective treatment depends on the discovery of COVID inhibitors. Accordingly, the use of information technologies such as AI [29, 37, 40]and VR [45] play a facilitating role in vaccine discovery. Other technologies, including M-health [9, 16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24, 27, 31]and telemedicine [9, 13, 20, 22, 30,31,32,33], are also effective approaches for treating patients at home. In addition, big data analysis [44]5G networks [23]and video games [13] can be used to advance treatment goals by facilitating healthcare decision-making, teleconsultation, and drug discovery. In Iran, only few e-health capabilities (e.g. e-care for quarantined people, performing medical inquiry services, responding to patients through online and offline consultation systems and Telemental ) were used to achieve treatment goals during this period. Other technologies should be used to treat and monitor patients in this country (see Fig. 3).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IT applications for management and planning have come to the fore. Various technologies, such as GIS [4, 9, 17, 51, 52]M-health [9, 17,18,19,20, 23, 24, 27, 28]block chain [4, 23, 30, 35, 46]and IoT [4, 9, 29, 30, 34,35,36] have been used for a variety of purposes, including controlling, monitoring and tracking, sharing information, visualizing data, and enabling a secure donation platform. Additionally, the use of DSS [9, 35]big data analysis [4, 29, 30, 35, 44]Surveillance system [9]5G network [23]internet search query [9]video games [13]and EHR [53] are examples of additional digital solutions that can help with decision making, data analysis, forecasting and resource allocation. Managing and controlling the state of the pandemic is impossible without the use of IT capabilities. In other words, information technologies can help governments and decision-makers in decision-making and pandemic management by providing real-time data, facilitating information sharing, analysis of data and knowledge of valuable tools in the fight against the pandemic.

In Iran, the benefits of IT to manage and control the COVID-19 outbreak have been prioritized over other goals. Therefore, policy makers can benefit from the use of databases, dashboards, surveillance systems, e-health and SIS to manage the COVID-19 disease. It should be noted that one of Iran’s main challenges is the proliferation of databases and information resources, which has resulted in a shortage of accurate information. As a result, there is a need to integrate these data using data mining and AI techniques to create valid databases. Additionally, the use of IT to control consumable and drug costs should be considered. Moreover, centralized and online control of hospital beds is necessary to increase the productivity of hospitals. Subsequently, our proposed framework calls for the adoption of additional digital solutions in this country.

Information technology has also contributed to the achievement of protection objectives; for example, the use of drones [23] and robots [9, 16, 23, 29] reduced the workload of healthcare workers and minimized human interaction; similarly, other technologies such as AI [23, 29, 35, 37,38,39,40, 42]and IoT [4, 9, 23, 34,35,36] has the potential to significantly reduce the workload of healthcare workers and facilitate the implementation of public health interventions. Additionally, using AR, patient data can be sent directly to the healthcare system without any contact or paperwork during triage. In addition, e-health [9, 20, 22, 31, 33] [17, 18, 24, 25, 27, 28] is another digital solution that can help minimize human interactions, especially during the quarantine period. In Iran, the lack of protective measures is more pronounced. Therefore, more attention should be paid to the use of assistive technologies to protect individuals from COVID-19 disease.


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