Harvard Student-Run Organization Building App To Prevent Diseases From Spreading On-Campus

By Amit Chowdhry ● March 6, 2020
  • Members of Global Alliance for Medical Innovation, a student-run organization at Harvard, announced an app to report symptoms

A student-run organization at Harvard University called Members of Global Alliance for Medical Innovation is working on a mobile application for reporting symptoms to the Harvard University Health Services, according to Virginia Ma at The Harvard Crimson. Organismic and Evolutionary Biology professor Dr. Pardis Sabeti is also involved in the project.

The app is called HouseCall. With the app, students can report symptoms and receive treatments in their rooms rather than having to go to the university health services locations. What the developers of the app are hoping to achieve is a minimization of the spread of infectious diseases on-campus.

HouseCall was inspired by research by Sabeti’s lab group when there was a mumps outbreak on the Harvard campus during the 2016-2017 school year. There were over 60 confirmed cases of the mumps on campus at the time.

“Coronavirus, as a respiratory pathogen, is passed on by droplet-based transmission, so being able to limit such an infectious disease pathogen would be really powerful in improving our ability for public health response,” said Global Alliance for Medical Innovation founder Sreekar Mantena via The Crimson. “With infectious diseases, obviously, once you leave the room you’re in contact with a bunch of peers, students, HUHS members, faculty and that leads to a lot of spread on campus.”

The HouseCall app is expected to be rolled out sometime in the next 3-4 weeks. The short-term goal is to have the app implemented in the Houses. Eventually, the team plans to roll out the HouseCall framework to other parts of the world that could benefit from the technology such as villages in West Africa.