Supporting health workers through the COVID-19 pandemic with insights into well-being

Health Worker Data Alliance

Healthcare

Challenge

Hospitals needed a simple and cost-effective way to measure and track the physical and mental well-being of health professionals over time – in order to prioritize different kinds of support.

Solution

We developed a responsive, lightweight application that collects data from health workers, and a pipeline that feeds this data into a visualization platform for easy-to-interpret insights.

Result

The Health Worker Data Alliance survey makes it easier for workers to take the survey multiple times for insights over time, and helps volunteers maintain a survey with granular inputs in multiple languages.

As health care professionals work on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re at risk of more than just contracting the virus. Witnessing and working to provide for patients every day—often under conditions where capacity is low and the right equipment may be in shortage—has a cumulative effect of draining each professional’s mental and physical well-being. We’ve joined an effort with the Health Worker Data Alliance and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation to build a standalone application that will monitor the physical, psychological, and occupational experiences of health workers with recurring surveys. The data from these surveys will help institutions and policymakers assess which health-care workers need the most help, and how to prioritize their needs.

Building a Better Data Pipeline

While designing the application architecture and choosing the technical stack, our team optimized for ease of use for both the professionals submitting their data and the volunteer base of data scientists. 

The engine behind the front-end application is a custom React form. Our team developed a mobile-first design that can support multiple different languages of questions and answers, and implemented mobile-friendly sensitivity scales to make a smoother UX for repeat survey-takers without storing any data that would violate HIPAA compliance.

We started building the system infrastructure by picking the tools the data visualization team was already familiar with. We anchored the pipeline with Tableau, which the data team had already begun using. We also leveraged Athena to pass data into Tableau and Parquet for long-format data analysis, both on recommendation from the team. 

With these tools in mind, we worked backward to fill out the system infrastructure. We are hosting all of the data in S3, and have configured Athena and Tableau to allow data scientists and data visualization experts to perform their queries and build their analyses directly in their app of choice without duplicating hosting costs.

8th Light provided clear communication, rationalization of architectural choices, and all around great delivery. The documentation and handoff notes provided at the end of the project were the best I've seen on a technical project.

Maria Demopoulos, Project Director for the Health Worker Data Alliance

Supporting Frontline Workers

This stand-alone application is available and free to use for all health workers, including physicians, nurses, and anyone else who works in a hospital, including security and IT. The more health professionals who use the application, the better sample size HWDA has to draw actionable conclusions about where hospitals should invest help right now.

With the application now live and receiving data from health professionals, HWDA data analysts are able to create an evolving set of visualizations and reports at different levels of depth—from single hospital systems to city-wide. In the future, the initiative may add reporting for individual workers to self-monitor their working conditions and their own responses over time.

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