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Mobile health company checks on Baltimore doctors, nurses in self-quarantine

Posted at 7:14 AM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 19:09:02-04

BALTIMORE — "Things are constantly changing day by day so we’re doing our best to keep up with everything and keep our spirits up," said Dr. Mariah Norby, a resident at Sinai Hospital.

She's just one of many doctors dealing with COVID-19.

A few weeks ago, Dr. Norby had second degree exposure to the coronavirus and had to self-quarantine.

"Everyone thinks it’s hard to come to work right now because of everything going on. It is. It’s scary and it’s hard but it’s really hard to sit on the couch and not do anything when you know all of your colleagues are out there fighting for your patients and for the well being of everyone in these hard times," said Dr. Norby.

As soon as she was exposed, a company called Emocha was notified. Emocha is known for virtual interactions between patients and doctors, mainly focusing on patients taking medicine properly. Now, it's used to help doctors and nurses who are in self-quarantine. Dr. Norby was in self-quarantine for several days waiting for her test results.

"It was very strange from going from front lines to being involved in everything to suddenly being benched so sitting at home not knowing what’s going on and not really having anyone in contact," she explained. "I had no idea what to do if I suddenly had symptoms or you know what my next steps would be so it was really nice that we had this platform that there was someone everyday was saying hey how are you doing? Please send us your temperature. Are you having any symptoms and if you do then here are your next steps."

It's all done through an app on your phone. The patient logs into the app, answers some questions about how they're feeling and then takes a video recording their temperature. This is done for at least 14 days.

Dr. Norby got her negative test results after nine days but was monitored for the full two weeks.

"We do monitoring so you are able to catch something as fast as we can," said Sebastian Sieguer, Emocha's CEO. "If we understand how they’re doing, it will help anybody walking into the hospital."

This portion of Emocha's program to help with a pandemic was created after the Ebola scare.

"So from 2015 on we cut a version of Emocha for monitoring health care workers and travelers from infected regions for Ebola. That software has been in use at Johns Hopkins since 2016. as this COVID crisis started to unfold over a month ago, Hopkins asked us to expand that," said Sieguer.

In Baltimore, this app is used by Lifebridge Health and Johns Hopkins. So far, Sieguer said they've had thousands of virtual visits and it's just going to increase.

"I think it’s becoming more and more important that we’re constantly checking in doing temperature checks making sure seeing how are we feeling, are we having any symptoms how emotionally are we doing, is there’s someone out there looking out there for. All of that is becoming more and more important," said Dr. Norby.

Dr. Norby said she was grateful to have this program while she waited for her test results.

"Even as a health care provider I don’t always know the best steps for myself. I know what to tell my patients but I wouldn’t always know what to do with me so it was nice that there was someone looking out for us, constantly check in checking up making sure we’re doing okay even when we’re not able to come into the hospital," said Dr. Norby.