Points of View

Healthcare ecosystems must rally around proven partners during COVID-19 to prepare for the aftermath, future outbreaks, and wider public health challenges

May 7, 2020 Josh Matthews

COVID-19 demands a new level of data gathering and management; most experts agree that contact tracing built on mass testing and vaccination will be the backbone of any exit strategy. While new tracking apps and emerging technologies like blockchain are being trialed, it’s existing service providers repositioning their platforms that show the most promise—covering the technical, scale, and speed-to-market requirements based on proven use cases and trusted partnerships. Conduent’s Maven platform, proven over 15+ years in disease tracking and monitoring (and broader public health challenges), is a widely used and trusted example. The entire healthcare ecosystem—public and private—must rally around such partners and platforms to gather and share data and validate its sources and regulation compliance at local, national and global scales, to coordinate the necessary healthcare response. In doing so, these consortiums and applications will address ongoing and emerging broader public health crises like STDs, zoonotic diseases, environmental health, and ongoing emerging diseases, which will exist long after COVID-19.

 

Conduent has been reinventing itself since spinning-out from Xerox in 2017; its Maven platform stands out in tackling COVID-19

 

The public sector (health especially) has remained a long-term strength for Conduent, which has divested various businesses under two CEOs since 2017, and the COVID-19 crisis is certainly helping its Maven platform to shine through.

 

Maven is Conduent’s longstanding disease surveillance and outbreak management platform, proven in facilitating case management alongside streamlining and visualizing confirmed cases and disease exposure through automated reporting and contact tracing. Conduent quickly incorporated a COVID-19 module into Maven. Over 15 years of experience tracking outbreaks like SARS and Ebola meant that Maven and its clients were ready for COVID-19; 12 of 38 existing jurisdiction clients (across the US, US territories, and Australia) had implemented the new COVID-19 module before the pandemic hit the US.

 

Maven integrates data to inform public health officials and improve decision making throughout the ecosystem (Exhibit 1). It collates automated data entry from hospitals, labs, and citizens alongside automated contact tracing, for example, via surveys sent directly to citizens, removing the workforce demands of manual outreach. Users can update Maven independently of Conduent to immediately address ever-changing reporting requirements; however, the current rapidly changing CDC requirements mean Conduent updates the COVID module.

 

Conduent has also worked with AWS and Azure to enable cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) access, supporting Conduent’s nimbleness in deployment. One jurisdiction had the new COVID-19 module functional in five days.

 

Exhibit 1: Conduent’s Maven platform connects an array of data sources in the public health reporting system with the governing CDC

  

 

Source: Conduent, 2020

 

 

Maven’s deep connection with the CDC is both a barrier to competitors and an opportunity for new entrants beyond the US

 

Most innovative companies born from disease outbreaks like SARS or Ebola have refocused as US public health funding dropped dramatically; many moved to tracking immunization, leaving Maven as one of few regulars competing for contracts.

 

All US states are legally required to have electronic reporting systems for almost 90 reportable conditions. For states struggling financially, the CDC offers a free basic system for reporting but recognizes the value of commercially-available systems like Maven; the CDC doesn’t compete with Conduent; it provides an alternative for jurisdictions as needed. The landscape is changing during COVID-19: states now have funding for advanced systems, and Maven is recognized as a widely adopted and conforming option.

 

The Maven platform is compliant with the United States’ HIPAA requirements. However, newcomers, and those who have pivoted their capability during the COVID crisis, might look at focusing on non-US markets where Maven is not certified or established, building market share with proven cases and modern platforms to challenge Maven’s deep US roots.

 

Maven is proven and has impressive potential, but it’s not new, and neither are the broader platforms helping during COVID-19

 

Innovations like the COVID-19 Symptom Tracker face a widespread challenge: producing verifiable public health data. Enterprises must treat these innovations as partnership opportunities augmenting verified data rather than as competitors to the likes of Maven. Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are involved in app-based contact tracing; there’s competition, even if they proclaim working for the common good.

 

It’s tough to enter this market during such a chaotic time, which is partly why we see many established service providers repositioning existing platforms and capabilities. They have their ecosystem partners’ trust, proven capability, and scale, and they’re showing an ability to pivot and deploy solutions quickly in a crisis. Here are two examples from providers we’ve spoken with:

 

  • Internet of things (IoT)-based “smart city” platforms are helping authorities monitor lockdown and plan for the next steps.
  • Manufacturers are looking to providers’ solutions to monitor employees’ health and working conditions (proximity, etc.) as they return to work.

 

The Bottom Line: An array of providers are positioning themselves as central points for the COVID-19 response. Collaborating now will prepare ecosystems to tackle future challenges that demand greater data tracking and management capabilities.

 

Pandemics demand collaboration beyond the public sector involving enterprises, expert SMEs, and coordinating non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While Maven has no use cases in production outside the public sector, we’re watching this space. Maven’s existing capability and the platform’s repositioning during COVID-19 allow for tracking and managing challenges beyond diseases, like the environment or even crime and justice, which many are beginning to think of as public health crises.

 

  • Many predict multiple waves of COVID-19; ecosystems established around platforms like Maven will be prepared for the response.
  • Mental, chronic, and other health issues will need the same level of collaboration, as they develop during and after COVID-19.
  • Future pandemics are certain; keep partnering and developing solutions incorporating emerging technologies.
  • Potentially more devastating issues like climate change and ongoing criminal justice failures will remain post-COVID-19; ecosystems need foundations to benchmark, respond, and measure progress.