COVID-19’s Lasting Impact on Healthcare

As we pass the one-year anniversary of the initial COVID-19 shutdown, the disease’s permanent impact on healthcare technology is significant. We’ve heard similar themes from many clients: telehealth is here to stay, a seamless digital patient experience is now an expected part of care, technology is quickly becoming a new social determinant of health, and – importantly – healthcare actually can quickly adapt when the situation demands it.

Healthcare providers’ creative response to the pandemic

Healthcare leaders at Providence were among the first to navigate the pandemic and realized early on hospital capacity could be an issue as cases began to surge. They moved quickly to leverage technology they were already using for other health journeys. The organization deployed a 14-day patient messaging pathway where positive patients who do not require hospitalization can report vital signs and symptoms, and the care team is alerted if intervention is required.

A novel approach to quickly learn more about COVID-19

As Providence clinicians began to observe patients were having very different experiences with the disease progression, Dr. Ari Robicsek, chief medical analytics officer, saw another important application for Twistle’s technology: research.

Learning about a new disease traditionally takes a long time. Patients tell their doctor what’s happening, the doctor records some information in the electronic medical record and then it can take years to recognize patterns, compile data, perform analysis, and develop a complete picture of the disease.

Dr. Robicsek worked with Twistle to build a questionnaire for his research project, MyCovidDiary, to significantly shorten the discovery phase for COVID-19 by giving patients the opportunity to become “citizen scientists.” The project includes objective questions (i.e. Do you have a fever?), and also captures each patient’s experience through open ended questions over a 12-month period. The results so far have been remarkable. Over 5,000 patients are consistently participating and sharing detailed accounts of their experience with COVID-19. Dr. Robicsek commented, “We’re discovering various symptoms that patients are mentioning because we’re asking them in real time, what are you experiencing now?”

Watch: How Providence is shortening the discovery phase for COVID-19

In this excerpt from a recent webinar, Dr. Robicsek shares an overview of a groundbreaking research project to quickly learn more about COVID-19: MyCovidDiary

The MyCovidDiary project is a great example of crowdsourcing research – Dr. Robicsek was surprised so many patients wanted to participate in the process and truly cared about potentially improving the lives of others. Expanding Twistle’s use beyond MyCovidDiary makes a lot of sense according to Twistle CEO Kulmeet Singh, “We can extend this to other diseases that we don’t yet understand as much about and help patients become collaborators in understanding the disease.” He offered this example, “Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex disease, it’s managed by expensive treatments, and rheumatologists are in short supply – gaining a better understanding of the disease could be invaluable in providing effective treatment.”

This groundbreaking research uncovered a new way to learn about diseases and highlights the importance of including the unfiltered patient voice in medical research to not only understand symptomology of a new disease, but gain insights about subjective experiences of patients. We look forward to seeing the output of Dr. Robicsek’s research and hopefully more widespread inclusion of the patient voice in research initiatives.

If you need a creative, agile technology partner for your unique use case, contact Twistle at