Henry Rossiter was planning the trip of the lifetime when the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across the United States, forcing people into isolation.
It was one of the many things in his life upended by the virus.
A UT computational engineering senior, Rossiter, 21, had planned to spend the summer mountain biking, completing an engineering internship and celebrating his last year in college. It didnt turn out that way.
Instead, the undergraduate who has a computer science background, has logged long hours working to build a mobile application that will help students and faculty safely return to campus this fall.
The app, called Protect Texas Together, will allow people to track their symptoms, record COVID-19 test results, get connected to medical resources and potentially, in the future even assist in contact tracing.
It will be available in the Apple App and Google Play stores starting in mid-August.
Rossiter says the change in plans was worthwhile. We have been pressed to develop this app in less than a month, which is fairly unusual in the app development world, he says of the team, which includes computer scientists, medical experts and engineers. Its been turbulent to say the least. But I hope we can minimize the spread of COVID on campus this fall.
As of this week, the United States has seen more than 4.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, roughly 450,000 of those in Texas. While the rate of new cases appears to have peaked in Texas in mid-July, the national rate continues to climb.
On Aug. 26, students will return to the UT campus to put some semblance of their lives back together. The university is one of many across the country and the world that will rely on technology to help that process.
A number of companies have put out mobile applications to help with things such as symptom tracking and contact tracing, which is the process of figuring out who is at risk for developing COVID-19 based on the people they have interacted with something normally done through interviewing.
Rather than adopt another companys technology, UT decided to develop something in-house so the application would fit its specific needs, says Cameron Craddock, associate professor of diagnostic medicine at Dell Medical School and project lead. It will allow the school of 51,000 students and an additional 25,000 faculty and staff members to navigate issues such as privacy more assuredly than it would be able to using someone elses technology.
The problem we are facing at UT is immense, Craddock says. And weve just seen an outstanding outpouring of UT talent to help address this problem pretty quickly.
The app, which will be available in Spanish and English, will have a symptom diary, where users can keep track of things such as fevers and coughs. If they are later diagnosed with an illness, they will have that information on hand to discuss with medical professionals.
The app uses an algorithm to determine, based on ones symptoms, whether it is safe to come to campus, then issues a digital day pass to that person if they are cleared.
It will also allow students, faculty and staff to get connected to health resources, find a testing location and track county and state COVID-19 statistics.
Additionally, the app will include a feature to help individuals record which rooms, including research labs and controlled access facilities, they have entered. This will help facilities and health teams identify spaces that potentially need to be decontaminated or isolated if someone working there tests positive for COVID-19. It will also assist with contact tracing to know who is in rooms at the same time.
Its really about helping members of the UT community do things that we know are important for staying healthy. In this case, that means having everybody check their symptoms on a regular basis and keep themselves at home if they have any symptoms, says software engineering professor Christine Julien, who is part of the development team.
Rossiter has been working to make the interface as user-friendly as possible. He is one of four undergraduates on the team and is leading front-end development. Three graduate students are also working on the app.
The project isnt a part of Rossiters computational engineering academic plan, but hes taken it up on the side because he sees the benefits of the technology for society.
I was eager to apply the computer programming skills I learned in school to solve real-world problems, he says. I enjoy seeing the impact that the technology I engineered has made.
Though the first iteration of the app will not include contact tracing, later versions likely will have that functionality. The development team is working on a plan that allows users to consent to having their location information stored within the app. Then, if people test positive for COVID-19, they will be able to pull up that data and see where they have been, so they can easily and confidentially share that information with medical professionals.
Ensuring privacy is the most important thing, Julien says. It would also be nice to get more data and information, but we would never do that if it meant we had to sacrifice individual users privacy in any way.
UT community members were able to move so quickly in building an app because they were already designing the technology infrastructure as part of the UT grand challenge Whole CommunitiesWhole Health.
The multiyear project has researchers working closely with local partners to understand more about the physical, environmental and emotional health of families living in Central Texas, particularly those who are part of historically marginalized communities. And technology is a huge component of the study.
The research team plans to retool the mobile application in the coming months for the grand challenge so it can study the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on local communities. The app could send surveys directly to peoples phones, as well as show other health and behavioral information that participants want to know about.
The last time the U.S. has undergone a pandemic that involved social distancing to this scale was 100 years ago, so we have very limited information about the effects that had on people, Craddock says. The notion is to try to collect as much information as we can about what peoples experiences are so that 10 years from now, we can use that information to understand the impact that social isolation and the pandemic had on society.
Low-income and marginalized communities have been hit especially hard by the virus, largely because of underlying systemic conditions that contribute to poor health and health care inequities. At the same time, unemployment, stress and alcohol use have increased globally. New graduates are entering one of the worst job markets since the 2008 recession. Rossiter will likely be among them.
Its a turbulent situation at a turbulent point in my life, he says. Honestly, I dont really know what I am doing a week from now, so three months from now its impossible to say.
I just want to see the software I develop have a positive impact on society.
- UMass Medical School-affiliated study finds federal rule will negatively impact immigrant health care - Worcester Business Journal - October 1st, 2020
- Medical school class writes own Hippocratic Oath acknowledging racism, Covid-19 deaths and the killing of Breonna Taylor - CNN - October 1st, 2020
- Just what the doctor ordered - Isaac accepted to med school - Jamaica Gleaner - October 1st, 2020
- These medical students just wrote their own Hippocratic oath. Here's what it says. - The Daily Briefing - October 1st, 2020
- Maryland researchers identify what works to help children avoid obesity - WTOP - October 1st, 2020
- Call It What It Is in-Training, the online peer-reviewed publication for medical students - Pager Publications, Inc. - October 1st, 2020
- Medical Education market seeking excellent growth | Stanford University School of Medicine, GE Healthcare Institute, Zimmer Biomet Institute, Olympus... - October 1st, 2020
- Political newcomer Cameron Webb looks beyond party in 5th District bid - Fauquier Times - October 1st, 2020
- Irregular periods linked to a greater risk of an early death, study suggests - CNN - October 1st, 2020
- This biologist helped trace SARS to bats. Now, he's working to uncover the origins of COVID-19 - Science Magazine - October 1st, 2020
- How This NYC Bill Would Address Harassment And Discrimination In Healthcare - Forbes - October 1st, 2020
- To deal with the A levels fiasco fallout, medical schools need a cash injection - Times Higher Education (THE) - September 8th, 2020
- Mercer University Breaks Ground on New Medical School Campus in Columbus - Mercer News - September 8th, 2020
- COVID-19-induced 'sophomore medical student syndrome' | TheHill - The Hill - September 8th, 2020
- New crop of medical students are headed to the lab - Stanford Medical Center Report - September 8th, 2020
- U of M Medical School researchers look to beach water for COVID community infection - KARE11.com - September 8th, 2020
- When's the right time to choose a medical specialty? - American Medical Association - September 8th, 2020
- Gujarat medical school to carry out autopsies of COVID-19 victims to study effects on body - Republic World - Republic World - September 8th, 2020
- Durham student with dreams of med school wins $100,000 in lottery game - WRAL.com - September 8th, 2020
- How to help medical students keep tabs on their mental health - American Medical Association - September 8th, 2020
- Industry VoicesCould less emphasis on the MCAT bring more diversity to medicine? - FierceHealthcare - September 8th, 2020
- Medical exams postponed amid strike and resurgent virus - University World News - September 8th, 2020
- TCOM creates office of student success - fortworthbusiness.com - September 8th, 2020
- COVID-19 Disproportionately Impacting Those With Developmental Disabilities - Disability Scoop - September 8th, 2020
- Med Students 'Feel Very Behind' Because of COVID-Induced Disruptions in Training - The Southern Maryland Chronicle - September 8th, 2020
- A bill would spend $1 billion on diversifying medical schools to close the racial health gap - NBC News - August 10th, 2020
- Pandemic acts as dress rehearsal for new medical school curriculum - Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis - August 10th, 2020
- The Unnamed Hero - Pager Publications, Inc. - August 10th, 2020
- Testing is the key to a successful fall reopening on campuses (opinion) - Inside Higher Ed - August 10th, 2020
- TUNE IN: Alexandria Addressing Back-to-School Worries in Virtual Town Hall - The Zebra - August 10th, 2020
- Community Healthcare honored during National Health Center Week - Times Record News - August 10th, 2020
- When Things Arent OK With a Childs Mental Health - The New York Times - August 10th, 2020
- Making sure patients, physicians know about the advances in treating female cancers - Norton Healthcare - August 10th, 2020
- 'We Are Here to Help Them' | Harvard Medical School - Harvard Medical School - August 10th, 2020
- In the face of challenges posed by a pandemic and racism, the White Coat Ceremony underscores the importance of our shared humanity - AAMC - August 10th, 2020
- Physician Group Wants Medical Schools To Waive The MCAT This Year - Physicians News Digest - August 10th, 2020
- Born with 1 hand, she's an inspiration in virus fight - ABC News - August 10th, 2020
- What to Expect in Medical School - AAMC for Students ... - August 8th, 2020
- International med students ease the path for others with new mentor group - STAT - August 8th, 2020
- Texas schools reopening mandate sets off another local control debate - The Texas Tribune - August 8th, 2020
- Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Morehouse School of Medicine Welcomes Its... - Diverse: Issues in Higher Education - August 8th, 2020
- Guntersville native joins Andrews Sports med team | Free Share - Sand Mountain Reporter - August 8th, 2020
- COVID-19 changing study of medicine on Long Island - Newsday - August 8th, 2020
- Health Care Workers Of Color Nearly Twice As Likely As Whites To Get COVID-19 - WUSF News - August 8th, 2020
- Dancing Wildcats Enjoy Smoother Transition to the Field of Medicine - UKNow - August 8th, 2020
- Kindness is the best medicine - Argus Leader - August 8th, 2020
- Kindness is the best medicine | Coronavirus | rocketminer.com - Daily Rocket Miner - August 8th, 2020
- With academic health center, the imagined can be reality - Las Vegas Sun - August 8th, 2020
- Need to Take the MCAT? You'll Still Have to Do It in Person - The New York Times - August 8th, 2020
- Why isn't ventilation part of the conversation on reopening schools? - STAT - August 8th, 2020
- Med School Professor Removed from Fellowship Director Post, Apparently for Publishing Anti-Affirmative-Action Journal Article - Reason - August 7th, 2020
- Good Shepherd celebrates one of it's first graduates on track to realize dream of becoming doctor - WDSU New Orleans - August 7th, 2020
- Change the course of the pandemic: UMass Medical School, Boston tech company at center of national push to - MassLive.com - August 7th, 2020
- Duality Health Begins Rapid Blockchain Innovation Cycle with Health Product Innovation Team at Dell Medical School - Tyler Morning Telegraph - August 7th, 2020
- Deciding whether to send your child back to school? Heres what the experts say to consider - nj.com - August 7th, 2020
- Kaine introduces bill that would support medical schools in underserved areas - WDVM 25 - August 4th, 2020
- Medical school affiliates on lack of diversity, burden of the 'minority tax' - The Stanford Daily - August 4th, 2020
- International medical school graduates need an easier path to practice in the US | TheHill - The Hill - August 4th, 2020
- The 'dura mater' handles medical training and motherhood with aplomb - DePauw University - August 4th, 2020
- Emory University doctor and former teacher suggests staggered starts, plexiglass lunch barriers to avoid COVID-19 spread in schools - 11Alive.com WXIA - August 4th, 2020
- President Houshmand and CMSRU Dean Reboli named to South Jersey BIZ Power 50 list - Rowan Today - August 4th, 2020
- 'Its a good mix of medicine and social justice': Medical student gets experience at NATIVE Project during pandemic - The Spokesman-Review - August 4th, 2020
- Addressing inequalities in women's health research | Contemporary OB/GYN - Contemporary Obgyn - August 4th, 2020
- New medical residents experience a different kind of welcome into URMC - University of Rochester - August 4th, 2020
- 'Not surprising': International graduate students respond to short-lived ICE directive - The Stanford Daily - August 4th, 2020
- MASKED-COVID Study to Assess Renal-Related Complications of COVID-19 - DocWire News - August 4th, 2020
- Addressing inequalities in women's health research - Contemporary Obgyn - August 4th, 2020
- Seeing the Health Care Profession Through the Eyes of a Medical Scribe - Hamilton College News - August 4th, 2020
- University of Medicine and Health Sciences Launches State-of-the-Art Virtual Tour - PR Web - August 4th, 2020
- Researchers With Game - Ohio Wesleyan University - August 4th, 2020
- List of medical schools in the United States - Wikipedia - August 3rd, 2020
- Disc Medicine Expands Leadership Team with Industry Veterans to Advance Hepcidin Modulating Therapies Toward the Clinic - PRNewswire - August 3rd, 2020
- Solomon Rajput '14 takes on Michigan incumbent for seat in Congress - The Dartmouth - August 3rd, 2020
- Fighting the Coronavirus, from New York to Utah - The New Yorker - August 3rd, 2020
- Boston doctor named hospital hero relied on human connection to get through COVID peak - Boston Herald - August 3rd, 2020
- Starkman: Beaumont Executive Paid $932000 by Hospital Vendor Whose Implants Were Pushed on Surgeons - Deadline Detroit - August 3rd, 2020
- Students need to be tested every 2-3 days for colleges to safely reopen - Yale News - August 3rd, 2020
- Taking Medicine and Tech to the Next Level: Ranney on New Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health - GoLocalProv - August 3rd, 2020
- Medical Schools Have Historically Been Wrong on Race - The New York Times - August 3rd, 2020
- After the Match: The Match in the Age of COVID-19 : Emergency Medicine News - LWW Journals - July 31st, 2020