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SADA, Google partner on disease surveillance system

An infectious disease surveillance portal incorporates a mapping application from SADA Systems and visualization technology from Google's recent Looker acquisition.

SADA Systems, a business and technology consulting firm, is working with HCA Healthcare and Google on a system to track the coronavirus curve at the local and regional level, providing predictive analytics to healthcare providers.

HCA, which operates 184 hospitals and around 2,000 care sites in the U.S. and the U.K., approached Google with the idea of creating a national response portal. Google then contacted SADA, a Google premier partner, to build and operate the infectious disease surveillance system on Google Cloud Platform.

SADA, which is based in Los Angeles, is contributing its DotMaps application, a map-based project coordination tool, to the initiative. Typical DotMaps customers have included departments of transportation, which use the application to track public works projects. The Seattle Department of Transportation, for instance, employs DotMaps to plan projects and help commuters avoid construction sites. DotMaps is based on Google Maps and Google Cloud Platform.

"This [application] is already used and hardened for the purpose of sharing geographic data with the general public," said Michael Ames, senior director of healthcare and life sciences at SADA.

Coronavirus image
The coronavirus is the first to be tested in a new infectious disease surveillance system, but the portal aims to play a role in monitoring future outbreaks.

SADA has repurposed the DotMAPs tool to provide community- and geography-based COVID-19 data. The consulting firm is also incorporating the Looker data analytics platform, which includes visualization tools for creating dashboards. Google in February 2020 completed its $2.6 billion acquisition of Looker Data Sciences.

"Part of what we have done is integrate Looker into DotMaps, so they can interact and be used together for geocentric and data-centric views," Ames said.

The aim of the infectious disease surveillance system is to help healthcare providers plan their response to COVID-19, in addition to any future outbreaks. Ames said the system already contains data from several hundred hospitals. "We see growing interest every single day," he said.

The portal is available at no cost to participating hospitals, or the general public, for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, Ames noted. He said the portal's longer-term financial stability and sustainability will only be addressed after the initial COVID-19 crisis passes, he added.

The goal is to enable as broad an adoption as possible.
Michael AmesSenior director of healthcare and life sciences, SADA

SADA is setting up mechanisms to allow hospitals to submit data to the portal in whatever way is easiest for them, Ames said, noting that hospitals' IT resources are overtasked at this time. For example, healthcare providers may send data via APIs or secure FTP. In addition, the portal can work with data sets that hospitals have already created. Ames noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has requested data from healthcare providers that is similar to the data the portal is tracking and monitoring. "The goal is to enable as broad an adoption as possible," he said.

SADA is also working to ingest predictive models from organizations such as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a global health research center. Those models will be layered on top of the daily data the portal collects from healthcare providers, Ames said. He added that the objective is to provide predictions on the coronavirus curve "so hospitals and government officials can plan for what is going to happen in the future."

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