As Bengaluru faces a bed crunch, the in-house software development team of the Karnataka Covid-19 War Room has been tasked with developing an application that will help patients in getting a hospital bed with as much ease as getting as a cab.
Munish Moudgil, an IAS officer whose team is working on the hospital bed app and the head of the state Covid 19 war room said, “We want to create an app for citizens that will work like an Ola or Uber app for access to hospital beds. Only those who test positive will be able to book a hospital bed and will be put on a list.” The app will verify the list with the ICMR database of persons who test positive for the Covid 19 each day and the bed allocations will happen only for those who test positive, Moudgil said.
A prototype of the app is under development and war room officials held discussions with an IAS officer Tushar Girinath, who has been put in charge of streamlining bed availability in Bengaluru, on Friday to understand requirements. “At present, the data on hospital beds availability is on a spreadsheet. An app is proposed but it could take a few days. The spreadsheet data will be put in public domain soon,” Girinath said.
According to epidemiologist and ICMR Covid 19 research group member Dr Giridhar R Babu technology must be used to address the problem of finding hospitals for Covid 19 positive persons. “A master database of all health facilities and manpower should be available. Realtime allocation of beds and ICUs using technology can help save lives. Self-assessment, finding hospitals for testing/hospitalisation and support should be integrated on the app or telephone,” he stated.
The in house software development team at the Karnataka Covid 19 War Room – comprising developers, testers and database persons – have so far developed as many as six apps for different functions ranging from contact tracing, quarantine watch, tracking international, domestic arrivals and critical patients.
In the month of June, 2956 cases and 88 deaths were reported in Bengaluru, in comparison to 358 cases and 10 deaths reported from March 8 to May 31.
Only 1514 beds are available in the government health setup as private hospitals have not yet opened up facilities for non-insured patients, say city health officials. Only 418 patients have been admitted to private hospitals since June 1 according to official data despite the presence of over 1500 beds for Covid 19 in the private sector on paper.
Out of the 100 ICU beds in the government set up of medical colleges and general hospitals in Bengaluru only seven beds – three ICU and four ICU with ventilator beds – were available as of June 27 as the official number of patients needing ICU care in Bengaluru touched 155 on Sunday – whereas only 10 people needed ICU care till May 31.
As of the weekend, out of 2033 beds available across three categories of government facilities in Bengaluru 1770 were occupied and only 263 beds were available. The city reported an all time high of 783 cases on June 28.
The Karnataka government has claimed to have access to over 500 ICU beds – mostly from the private sector – including 250 with ventilators in the city of Bengaluru. “Efforts are on to get private hospitals to co-operate for treatment of Covid 19,” a city health official said.
On June 23 the Karnataka government issued an order under the National Disaster Management Act for taking over 50 percent of beds at all private hospitals. On Saturday the state government issued a warning to private hospitals not releasing beds for Covid 19 patients.“Non-compliance to the order will attract punishment under releavant sections of the Disaster Management Act 2005, the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act, 2017 and the Indian Penal Code,” says the June 27 warning to hospitals.
The Karnataka government has prescribed a cost structure ranging from Rs 5200 for a general bed to Rs 10000 per day for an ICU with a ventilator for patients referred to private hospitals by the state.
The June 23 notification for reserving 50 percent of beds for Covid 19 patients also allows private hospitals to utilize 50 percent of remaining beds for private patients and insurance patients with a cost ceiling ranging from Rs 10000 for a general ward and Rs 25,000 for an ICU with a ventilator for non-insurance patients. In the case of patients who report directly to private hospitals, they can be admitted to Covid 19 wards and there is no ceiling on charges if the patient has a private insurance cover. Health officials say hospitals favor patients who have private insurance.
The admission of patients who test positive for Covid 19 to hospitals in Karnataka at present involves health officials downloading information of positive persons from the ICMR portal where the data is fed by the ICMR recognized labs and a health team visiting the home of the patient to assess in which of the three categories of hospitals the patient must be admitted.
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