Research by the University’s School of Postgraduate Medicine into Covid-19 ‘symptom checkers’ has featured prominently in the international media.
The study, authored by Ms Fatma Mansab, Dr Daniel Goyal and Dr Sohail Bhatti, compared performance of Covid-19 symptom checkers across different countries, revealing marked variation between national symptom checkers.
National ‘Symptom Checkers’ have been implemented in many countries in the hope of reducing this burden faced by healthcare services. Symptom checkers are self-assessment tools. The individual—typically online or via computer application—enters their symptoms into a predetermined platform and from there a predetermined algorithm produces an outcome (usually advice).
The study, published by the BMJ Health and Care Informatics assessed the performance of online checkers used by the UK, USA, Japan and Singapore via a series of case simulations. They found that the symptom checkers employed by Japan and Singapore – both countries with low death rates - are twice as likely to triage cases onward for clinical assessment than those of the USA or UK – countries with higher death rates. According to the study, US and UK symptom checkers frequently triaged simulated cases of sepsis, bacterial pneumonia and severe COVID-19 to stay home with no further healthcare contact. This meant that by the time symptoms got bad enough to seek hospital admission, valuable time had been lost.
The Head of School, Dr Sohail Bhatti commented that, "The University’s new School of Postgraduate Medicine, which seeks to improve the quality of clinical knowledge and research is very pleased to have such a highly featured article identifying an important area of care. It contributes to the worldwide efforts to battle COVID-19. I am proud that Gibraltar, the University and the new School are contributing to what the world has learnt about dealing with this challenging disease & virus"
The study has received worldwide coverage, including BBC News, Daily Mail, msn.com, Evening Standard, HuffPost UK and the Metro.