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COVID-19 Data Tracking Goes Digital in the Philippines

The app will make encoding data easier and help the government make better decisions for us all.
by Nicole Cruz
May 13, 2020

Data errors and inconsistencies regarding COVID-19 cases may soon be a thing of the past as the Philippine government works  on a new data ecosystem. 

The Department of Health announced earlier today, May 13, 2020, that it is working with the World Health Organization to digitize the surveillance of COVID-19 cases in the country. According to GMA News, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said  this digital data system will be in the form of an app called COVID KAYA. It will reduce the need for manual encoding and consequently, the possibility of errors. 

“The DOH remains to be committed to transparency and we welcome feedback from the expert community,” Vergeire said.

The Department of Health is working with Thinking Machines Data Science, a global data science consultancy. CEO Stephanie Sy explained that the COVID KAYA app allows frontliners to easily encode data, but its specific features have yet to be revealed. 

“This means that the number of steps it takes to collect data… can all be centralized. I think that will really help everybody make better decisions,” she said.

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Sy mentioned that they hope to roll this out as early as next week, “I believe that we began deployment of COVID KAYA and we hope to have that one system to follow cases live and have it reflected in our data within the next week.”

The announcement of this initiative follows yesterday’s news on the UP Resilience Institute addressing the data inconsistencies of the DOH reports on COVID-19 cases. Issues included mismatched stats between the DOH numbers and the LGU count, as well as changes in sex and age of certain cases. “75 patients became older or younger overnight,” notes GMA News. 

Sy assessed the issue and mentioned various factors that might have caused the errors: “Sometimes it’s an encoding issue, sometimes it’s a process issue. Sometimes, a form was filled out incorrectly or tagged the wrong person.”