Flashback to March 2020, when life as we knew it transformed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At that point, DailyDoctor (then known as AIRx Health) was barely a year old and monitoring only patients for lung disease. A team of three, we were on our way to learning about how best to provide chronic condition management when the COVID-19 virus suddenly overtook societies around the world, sending millions of people home to quarantine and countless infected patients to hospitals.
Following the start of the crisis, it took little time for us to realize that because COVID-19 debilitates the respiratory system, the major indicators of declining health among patients with COVID-19 share common symptoms with lung diseases, which DailyDoctor was monitoring for at the time. This meant that, with some small tweaks, our system could be used to monitor patients with COVID-19 at home, which would reduce the potential for disease spread and prevent unnecessary costs and strain on our healthcare system.
Our team was eager to do our part during the pandemic by dedicating the technology we’d developed to monitoring COVID-infected patients, but recognized this could come at a cost to our business. Steering our platform towards what we then thought was an acute condition such as COVID-19 would detract from our original vision, business roadmap, and limited resources we’d developed for monitoring and managing chronic conditions. Thus, the DailyDoctor founders Vijay and Marlon were faced with a choice: invest time, energy, and money in tackling an issue that may or may not be beneficial for the company long term but was acutely impacting the lives of many, or stay the course with chronic conditions and ignore the pandemic unfolding in front of all of us.
Vijay and Marlon quickly decided that they couldn’t standby, and redirected the entrepreneurial vision which DailyDoctor had been born of to dedicate the following three months to COVID-19 monitoring.
Our DailyDoctor Medical Advisors introduced us to the team at Stanford University who we partnered with to launch a research study on COVID-19 monitoring. Given DailyDoctor is headquartered in San Jose, our team was excited to simultaneously help patients in our community while furthering scientific research on the benefits of preventative healthcare solutions like ours. After finalizing a partnership with Stanford and performing the needed modifications to our platform based on COVID-specific monitoring protocols, we began monitoring patients with COVID-19. Between September 2020 and March 2021, Stanford physicians used the DailyDoctor daily health monitoring platform to monitor approximately 50 high-risk patients who’d tested positive for COVID-19. Reports were emerging that COVID-19 patients may have a low oxygen saturation (SpO2) independent of visible respiratory distress, a phenomenon termed “silent hypoxia.” Through daily symptom and SpO2 and heart rate vital collection, our goal was to enable doctors to determine incidences of silent hypoxia among sick patients so that care could be brought in to the hospital earlier in their COVID course to get the care they needed early, including supplemental oxygen, before the symptoms worsened. The experience proved to be both easy and effective for infected patients, and useful for their providers; according to Dr. Laura Vaughan, our primary contact at Stanford Medicine and the principal investigator of the study, “The DailyDoctor platform allows team members to follow, check, and evaluate multiple patients from the dashboard with one look.” You can read more about the research study and its outcomes in the PubMed publication.
As the study period ended and the 2020 winter surge waned, DailyDoctor decided to return to solving the problem we’d set out to impact: providing preventative solutions for seniors with chronic conditions, starting with COPD, CHF, hypertension, and stroke. We paused the COVID-19 monitoring features on our platform and have dedicated ourselves fully to our original vision. Two years since first deciding to monitor for COVID-19, our team looks back on the decision to monitor for COVID-19 and we know DailyDoctor made the right choice, simply because it was the moral choice. Every action DailyDoctor takes is guided by our mission to save lives, and it was a privilege for us to live out this value when we enabled COVID-19 monitoring back in 2020.