Deepak Goyal, Assistant Vice President – Offering and Engineering at Altran explains how the “Are You Well?” app designed and developed by Altran can help communities combat COVID19
What are the solutions & services in the Altran portfolio?
Altran, part of Capgemini, is a global engineering R&D service provider and the world leader in innovation and high tech. Altran offers its clients a unique value proposition to meet their transformation and innovation challenges. Altran supports its clients, from concept through industrialization, to develop the products and services of tomorrow and has been working for more than 35 years with major players in many sectors: Automotive, Aeronautics, Space, Defense & Naval, Rail, Infrastructure & Transport, Energy, Industrial & Consumer, Life Sciences, Communications, Semiconductor & Electronics, Software & Internet, Finance & Public Sector. Altran has more than 50,000 employees operating in over 30 countries.
In the context of ‘Are You Well’ app, Altran, as a leader and forefront of innovation, has always believed that the developer community has a lot of power in terms of creating innovative solutions that can help the society at large. We wanted to create something useful in this challenging situation and got this opportunity through IBM’s Call for Code, which is a coding competition with participants from innovative organizations. The theme for the Call for Code was climate change, but this year they had an exclusive theme for Covid-19 related solutions.
At Altran, there are multiple teams who have been working on various different scenarios for Covid-19,and this initiative was exclusively related to software as innovation. I was leading this team and we got together and participated in this global initiative by IBM and we carved out an exclusive stream to develop this innovative solution. We did our own brainstorming to understand where the challenges lieand engaged with our design firm, frog Design, which is a part of Altran and built ‘Are You Well’, an end-to-end solution. This application is an end-to-end system that integrates with existing standards and ecosystem that the hospital would have and is open to doctors, patients and the service providers,
How does the ‘Are You Well’ app function?
It constitutes of three parts, first is the mobile app which can be downloaded from the app store. Users can install this app and register using mobile number and email address. They will then get connected to a virtual hospital infrastructure. End users often get anxious thinking about symptoms of covid-19and also worrying about the future if he/she will be able to get help in the time of need. Now they can just get themselves registered using the IBM Watson Assistant and the Chabot then asks questions based on the details that are registered, and based on the responses of the user, they are evaluated on the risk criteria. This also works as an encyclopedia for gaining knowledge.
Arogya Setu app is a great initiative by Government of India and more focused to track and trace with symptom evaluation of end user. The ‘Are You Well’ solution gives the flexibility to adapt to the changing situations and evaluates a user based on the symptoms and algorithm defined by service provider. For example, a healthcare provider will have their own questionnaire and from time to time those symptomatic questions might change. There are a lot ofongoing developments and the provider would want to change their questions based on priority. This is one flexibility that end users can expect in this app. As a healthcare provider, you prepare your own questions, you put your own weightage, and you develop your own algorithm, basically you can design the entire evaluation algorithm that evaluates the risk criteria. While our app contains a standard set of questions that we have added. The platform is flexible to allow health providers to edit the template or create a new template of questions and associated algorithm.
Today we do not have a standard in the medical system where you can integrate with any hospital management system. Each hospital will have their own API to get the availability of beds. The basic framework that we have in this app has those integration points where each service provider can integrate their own data systems with us and we can make them available. Our system would prioritize all the users in the virtual hospitals based on their criticality and we have medical service providers who would cater to the help they have requested. Based on the criticality of the patient, the medical service provider then connects the patient to the doctor.
How do you take care of the privacy and security aspect since there are various service providers who are enrolled and the patient shares personal information on the app?
This is in fact our primary focus. We do not share a patient’s critical information. We do share a patient’s contact details in a secured manner within the system, such as basic health records such as temperature, symptoms related to Covid-19 etc.. However, users have a choice to expand this app to get all diagnostic test results, but we do not share the results with any health assistance or doctor. These are integration points. Today we are not connected to any Covid-19 labs, so if a service provider wants to use this app to be deployed in a manner where test results can be automated, then we can integrate this app with IBM Cloud Pak for Data. It is a cloud based AI and data analysis solution where they have inbuilt regulatory frameworks like HIPPA compliance, where the data will be filtered before sharing with any other system.
Does this app extend to medical consultation from these healthcare service providers and how does it confirm to the telemedicine guidelines?
We have not integrated with Artificial Intelligence in terms of risk evaluation because that is not legally allowed. The AI algorithm should not evaluate a patient’s risk factor. We have an algorithm which can be designed by a health expert based on various research. We do not run anyautomated machine learningalgorithm to profile users into various risk criteria. We have not done that because it is not legally allowed. Artificial Intelligence supported system can be created where risk evaluation is done through automation, but it should only act as a supportive system which does not take any decision. It should be the doctor who should decide if a person is infected and accordingly identify the type of risk. . We have given that power to the doctor who is assisted by an algorithm that can be designed in the platform. Once a patient is referred to a doctor, the doctor can prescribe medication and chat with the patient on the app itself. This is an advantage that we have given to our end users that they do not have to travel to get checked, it can be done through the app itself and all the records will be saved.
How many users have registered till date and how many healthcare providers have partnered in this program?
Currently we are looking for partners and we are looking at expanding this application to different other use cases as well. What I spoke about till now is about end-to-end monitoring. Another use case of the application is ‘back to office’. Mostly all organizations are looking for their employees to come back to office, keeping in mind their safety. We are extending this app with a similar algorithm and user experience, where employees can feed their data in the app and that can be monitored by the HR team or the management. Apart from that we are extending it to ‘back to school.’
We are in talks with health service providers in US with the help from IBM, to deploy ‘Are You Well’ app. We have it deployed today in the IBM cloud and we intend to have our own employees to start using it as a part of ‘back to office’ use case. We are in a phase of designing it and enabling deployment. The user trials will take place a few weeks from now.
Typically for back to office where there are not many compliance that need to be conformed to, can there be certain templates created of typical scenarios which can be replicated across organizations?
Even for medical monitoring systems, we will give some templates based on our research. It is up to the service provider if they want to adapt to it, or create an entire template from the scratch, the flexibility is theirs. For back to office, we are designing some templates but organizations can change it based on their company protocols.
What are going to be your main focus areas in the next two quarters?
Currently the ‘Are You Well’ app is restricted to Covid-19. In the future we would like to expand the application for any pandemic or climate disaster where medical collaboration is needed or any kind of reach is required. As and when we have more partners and medical experts, we can probably explore new use cases. Health monitoring due to pollution can be another aspect, as rightly suggested by you.
Will the application support multiple languages?
We have designed the application in such a manner that it can support multiple languages. If this goes well and if there is a need, then we will hire translators who can help with translating the resource files into different languages.
How dynamic is the application with the information that are being provided by the end users?
Medical service providers can just change the algorithm, symptoms, add new questions based on the changing nature of the symptoms from the backend. Everything can be done from the backend like changing the weightage of the questions, removing a question and the new patients will be tested based on the new criteria. This is very flexible. End users are evaluated based on the information that they have provided. From the backend service providers can actually feed in the information to the end users.
What is the GTM strategy followed by Altran and how has this been impacted in the pandemic?
Altran’s go-to-market is managed by the different business lines, which is organized by target industries (Manufacturing, Automotive, Consumer Products & Retail, Life Sciences etc.). Key offers are verticalized as and when needed and as per client requirements (e.g. industry specific analytics, digital twins). We enable clients to achieve quantified performance improvement in their operations through tailor-made integrated application of advanced digital & automation technologies that ranges from transformation roadmap definition to final deployment at scale of the solutions with our key offers.
As a world leader in engineering and R&D services, we have resolutely joined the global fight against COVID-19. Over the past couple of months, Altran has repositioned a number of its engineers, scientists and designers to lead or partner with other institutions on initiatives addressing the key challenges posed by this pandemic. To address the global shortage of ventilators, we leveraged our knowledge in manufacturing operations, product design and medical certification management to support manufacturing ramp-up and engineer safe and easy-to-produce new ventilators, cutting down production time from weeks to only days. Our teams are also helping longstanding life sciences and healthcare partners in their efforts to repurpose drugs and develop new patient tests. Additionally, more than 300 Altran engineers in Spain have participated voluntarily in the production of personal protective medical equipment using 3D printing.
How is Altran looking at balancing between retaining existing customers and acquiring new customers?
In the current COVID-19 scenario, we are making sure that our teams are proactively adapting to the rapidly changing circumstances. Altran is focusing intently on both employees and clients – our two most important stakeholders. Our HR and talent management systems are helping engineers during this time, while also planning ahead and anticipating emerging risks. As many of our engineers are being forced to quarantine or self-isolate, we are trying our best to keep the pressure from passing on to the limited number of engineers available on duty by keeping a tab on their workloads and allocation of site visits.
On the client front, we are focused on increasing the use of performance analytics to enable faster responses to changes in consumer behavior, and redefining customer segments in context of the emerging new normal. In these trying times, quality of service continues to be of paramount importance for us. It not only builds trust with our existing clients, but also creates opportunities for new business as we strive to bring genuine value for our customers.
It has been of paramount importance to continue have our employees work from safe home environment and at the same time ensure that they are as or more productive for our clients to take care of their evolving business need. The need of the hour more than ever is to bring more innovative offers and solutions to our customer in the new normal.