The Manchester-based health app helping track the spread of coronavirus

Charlie Spargo's picture

At the time of writing, more than 22,000 people in the UK are understood to be suffering from the coronavirus, which is being taken on with the full force of our health service and government.

But modern technology is adding never-before-seen capabilities beyond healthcare in the fight against the pandemic and wider wellness problems. One solution provider, Evergreen Life, is a Manchester-based app ensuring everyone has access to and owns their personal health data, combining GP records with lifestyle, fitness, mental health and DNA information.

Used by nearly 750,000 - in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Evergreen Life pivoted its resources to create a tool for self-reporting COVID-19 symptoms and create a live heatmap, so researchers could analyse and respond to the spread of the virus.

Stephen Critchlow, CEO of Evergreen Life, says “users of our health and wellness app are contributing to a live, publicly-available heatmap of people with COVID-19 symptoms, providing a national picture of the outbreak. Getting more people to add to the data will help us fight the virus with accurate information.

“Evergreen Life has been working tirelessly with the NHS as the virus has spread to develop services to help our app users, and the NHS, prepare and respond to the outbreak.”

Stephen Critchlow, CEO of Evergreen Life

App users are being asked to report any dry cough, fever, or if they’ve chosen to self-isolate. “The anonymised data from our map is being used to create a national picture of those reporting symptoms. People will also be asked to report when they recover to enable further data analysis as the outbreak progresses. 

“This is combined with whether they are complying with government advice on social distancing and how anxious they feel. Since many have downloaded their medical record, we can provide specific advice to our users who have underlying issues.”

Following the virus's spread

Critchlow tells me, “providing a clear picture will help people to make the best possible decisions - like understanding the importance of self-isolation and social distancing, and how to do it.” For this reason, users are sent personalised information - in particular, for any users from the sample of 1.5 million British citizens at greatest risk of complications.

When it comes to the results, there have been more than 25,000 responses already - out of the three-quarters of a million who together create a representative sample of the whole of the UK. “The initial data is based on over 5,039 responses,” says Critchlow, “and we now have over 25,000 responses. 

“Evergreen Life is encouraging anybody willing to contribute to download the Evergreen Life App for free to help build the most comprehensive picture possible. Viewed over time, the data should reveal both the extent of the symptoms, but also how they may be moving around the UK, providing a detailed picture of this otherwise invisible enemy.”

Once collected, “Researchers at the University of Liverpool will analyse the Evergreen Life app data as part of the Liverpool Malawi COVID-19 taskforce in concert with national public health measures,” says Stephen.

“As well as providing information to create the heat map, our users can access their NHS records, share them with other healthcare service providers, book GP appointments in person or by video, order prescriptions and receive well-being advice to stay well during self-isolation.”

Available in the crisis

The speed at which Evergreen Life has redeployed its capabilities to directly take on the coronavirus crisis is remarkable. “The App was built to use AI to deliver personalised advice and also inform our Evergreen community of which interventions improve wellbeing the most. It was immediately available in the crisis to do just that. 

“We’re using statistical monitoring to inform the NHS on behalf of our community to allow services to be prioritised, as well as understanding the benefits of isolation over time. We already had a platform assured by the NHS and ready to go.”

Unfortunately, there are concerns that coronavirus will hit the UK hard, with the cumulative death rate rising at a similar rate to that of Italy’s at the same point. Italy’s death toll recently reached the 10,000 mark. “We have a relatively sick nation, with more chronic long-term conditions than any other European country. This puts these people at risk from such a virus. 

“Having a platform that can report on stats nationally should be the first thought for early warning signs of a pandemic.” The team at Evergreen Life jumped into action as soon as it became clear how powerful their platform coule be.

“When we heard that the spread of the virus was ‘invisible’ from the Prime Minister, we realised we could reveal it,” Critchlow said. He believes it should be part of national reporting in the case of any pandemic or national health crisis like heart disease. “Imagine in the future if we all report on what we do, and monitor the progression of chronic disease.”

Evergreen Life believes that together we can track and tackle the pandemic - and use technology as a new weapon in the struggle against threats to public health.