Research has shown that early treatment of autism is crucial to a child’s long-term development. All states now cover autism therapy through Medicaid and have laws that require private health plans to cover autism therapy.
However, there are still barriers to access, and the pandemic has exacerbated the already challenging process of getting treatment. Children often must wait months and sometimes even more than a year to get diagnosis and treatment. Statistics also show that children from minority communities and those who live in rural areas face additional roadblocks to getting help. “The impact on families having to wait for diagnosis or treatment can be devastating,” said Kristin Jacobson, founder of the Autism Deserves Equal Coverage Foundation, an advocacy group in California.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic many families canceled their in-home services and treatments due to fear of infection. Virtual therapy was not as successful, especially for nonverbal and younger children. With fewer clients, providers had to lay off staff or shut down their facilities. COVID-19 also made the staffing problem more difficult because now companies struggle to compete with the rising wages in other sectors.
The CDC estimates that autism effects 1 in 44 U.S. children and includes symptoms of communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors as well as a range of developmental and psychiatric health conditions. Early diagnosis of autism can make a huge difference. Children who begin their therapy by age two or three can successfully reduce their symptoms.
The providers that typically complete autism diagnosis include developmental-behavior pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists, but all have staff shortages. Dr. Michelle Zeanah, a behavioral pediatrician, draws families from 60 mostly rural counties to her clinic in Statesboro, Georgia. “There’s a massive shortage of people willing and able to do an autism diagnosis,” she said.
April is autism awareness month, join SDI Labs in raising awareness and supporting families affected by autism. #LightItUpBlue
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The ongoing pandemic has greatly accelerated the rise of digital technology in healthcare.
As the pandemic continues to sweep across the
world, causing unprecedented disruption to the economy and posing a constant
threat of overwhelming healthcare services, the need for digital transformation
has never been greater. Already, our everyday lives have been changed beyond
measure by stay-at-home orders and closed schools and businesses. All the
while, even highly effective healthcare services in developed countries are
buckling under the strain.
But with vaccination now underway in many
countries, there is finally hope on the horizon. Technology is critical to
scaling the monumental task of vaccinating billions of people, as well as the
testing that will be needed for years to come to isolate and mitigate localized
outbreaks. Emerging solutions like artificial intelligence are helping to scale
testing and vaccination and automate critical manufacturing processes, to name
a few examples.
What are COVID-19 tests, and how do they work?
While a vaccine is the most powerful weapon
against the coronavirus, testing remains a vital part of the overall strategy. Regular
testing will continue to help, even once the pandemic has been brought under
control. Not only does it allow epidemiologists to track outbreaks and get them
under control before they spread across the wider community – they can also
help test the efficacy of vaccines. Furthermore, testing helps those who cannot
be vaccinated due to medical or other reasons.
COVID-19 tests broadly fall into two main categories. There are tests designed to diagnose a current infection, and others to determine whether a patient previously had SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Diagnostic tests for current infections include molecular testing and antigen testing, while antibody tests detect past infections.
Molecular testing involves taking a sample of
saliva or other bodily fluid using a nasal or throat swab. The sample is then
analyzed on a molecular level to detect genetic material belonging to the
virus. By far the most common method is the RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase
chain reaction) test.
RT-PCR testing has become the gold standard,
since it is the most accurate. According to research curated by the CDC, RT-PCR tests yielded a sensitivity
of 80% and a specificity of 98.9% in symptomatic patients. In asymptomatic
patients, these figures stand at 41.2% and 98.4% respectively. Moreover, these
figures give the testing a confidence level of 95%, making them far more
reliable than other methods.
Antigen testing is also done using a nasal or
throat swab. It works by identifying fragments of the viral protein, known as
antigens. Antigen tests are readily available from pharmacies and other medical
facilities without a prescription, so they can be used at home. They also
deliver much faster results, since samples do not need to be analyzed in a
laboratory. In this respect, they work rather like a rapid strep test or
pregnancy test, delivering results in minutes.
The main drawback of antigen testing is that it is not as accurate as RT-PCR testing. Because of this, the FDA does not recommend relying on it entirely. Negative antigen test results should ideally be verified with a RT-PCR test, since false negative results occur much more frequently than they do with molecular tests.
Antibody testing determines whether patients
have previously been infected with the virus by detecting antibodies in the
blood. Because this method requires a blood sample, it can only be done at a
medical facility. Results are typically available within a few days. Accuracy
rates vary heavily depending on when the test is taken, due to the fact it
takes a week or two for the body produce antibodies following an infection. Antibody
levels can decay after a few months, making it uncertain how long
How are digital platforms enabling
Without digital technology, it would be all but
impossible to scale with the massive demand of testing and vaccinating billions
of people around the world.
Thanks to digitized healthcare, it is now
possible to complete digital intake forms and schedule online consultations.
For example, popular video conferencing platform Zoom has launched a plan that caters specifically for the
needs of the healthcare sector. Now fully HIPAA-compliant to protect patient
privacy, general practitioners and other healthcare professionals can use Zoom,
among other platforms, for holding online consultations. Doing so allows them
to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to both themselves and their
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has greatly
accelerated the demand for telemedicine. When it comes to COVID-19 testing, patients
can now attend online appointments and use their home testing kits to collect
specimens with real-time guidance and supervision. They can then send the specimen
package using a specialized return shipping container provided by the lab and
receive results by email or text message. It typically takes up to 24 hours to
receive a result, which is far quicker than it is without the help of digital
Similar methods will prove instrumental in
rolling out mass vaccination campaigns as well. In fact, many countries are
using the same systems they have been relying on for months in their testing
and contact-tracing strategies for vaccinations. That said, the need for
regular testing, especially in high-risk environments, such as healthcare
facilities themselves, will stay for the foreseeable future.
SDI Labs using technology to help fight COVID-19?
depends heavily on digital technology to meet patient needs during the
pandemic. Our web-based form allows patients to order RT-PCR tests online, and
we can supervise and guide patients through the home-testing process via Zoom. We
can then communicate results to patients via email, while maintaining patient
privacy according to HIPAA regulations.
also implemented an AI-based system to better identify false positives and
negatives from point-of-care antigen testing kits. This is especially important,
given that antigen testing has a relatively low accuracy rate in the region of
60 to 80%. Our proprietary system analyzes patient intake data to determine the
likelihood of patients being negative or positive, before matching those
insights alongside actual test results.
our labs management system allows us to scale capacity according to patient
demand, while our integrated customer relationship management platform allows
us to deliver faster and more efficient patient support.
While it will likely be some years before the pandemic can truly be declared over everywhere in the world, the digitization of healthcare will only become more important. The pandemic has simply highlighted the preexisting need to streamline healthcare and provide better outcomes, and these priorities are always going to be the primary goals of the sector.
SDI Labs relies on digital innovation to adapt and scale to the rapidly evolving needs of today’s healthcare sector. Our proven four-step COVID-19 testing model is helping us achieve optimal outcomes, with test results delivered by post or email within 24 hours. Order your test today.
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hit the world in January 2020, and one thing is clear. It has shifted the dynamics
of the world completely. Entire organizations have been disrupted and some have
even been forced to declare themselves as bankrupt. Massive layoffs have taken
place. Employees have had to face pay-cuts. In fact, they also experienced a
change in corporate culture. With lockdown orders in place and orders that
prevented people from gathering in one place, organizations had no choice but
to shift people at home and ask them to work from there.
have had to adapt to a new work culture. Previously, they were made to feel
part of the organization. They could also socialize with other employees. Now,
while being at home, employees also had to deal with feelings of isolation. Human
Resources also had to face changes and are continuing to do so. It seems as if
the entire corporate world has been hit hard by the Pandemic and is now trying
to find its place. In this article, we will look into how the corporate world
has changed with the advent of the virus and what HR is doing.
The role of the HR
professionals are now concerned with employees’ well-being and they also have
the burden of processing paperwork for the employees who are being laid-off. Moreover,
they also have to fire employees because of the Pandemic and perhaps bring in
fresh talent to replace them. For employees still on the job, HR managers are
trying to make the workers more productive, motivated and connected. However,
the job has come with challenges. Therefore, there are some steps that HR must
take to stay ahead of the game.
Systemic Thinking: To
survive, businesses have to become more adaptable. They have to be flexible and
move with speed and agility. This is one of the things HR can heavily
influence. It is in one of the best positions to see the overall process and
offer a strong perspective on how things need to be done. It can ensure proper
communication, coordination, and collaboration across units and business groups.
HR can also reprioritize the business’s role to adapt to the changing customer
demands and markets set forth by COVID-19. Since it has access to all the
employees of various departments, it can ensure the process is carried out
Company culture: Since
the company culture has been altered directly, HR has to ensure that employees
still feel like they are part of the organization. To do this, HR is conducting
a culture assessment to close the gap between the desired and current culture. Since
HR is the best department to motivate people to adapt to change, it helps the
organization adapt to the change.
Providing strong leaders: A
strong leader is needed, particularly in trying times to help the organization
navigate the Pandemic. HR plays a fundamental role in developing leaders and
ensures that they will be successful by holding them to a higher standard. It
is HR’s job to provide the leaders with the skills they need to control and
manage the company from a distance by giving them proper training. It should
also provide employees with clarity.
of the biggest changes that the Pandemic brought with it is remote work. And
that change is probably here to stay. However, the concept of remote working
was not entirely new. Even before the Coronavirus hit, virtual work was being
done. In the US, the number of people who were telecommuting in US increased
159 percent between 2005 and 2017, according to the data from Flexjobs. The
data also indicated that 4.7 million in the US were telecommuting. This is a
figure that has increased from 3.9 million in 2015.
a couple of weeks into the virus, the WHO declared the Coronavirus as a
pandemic on March 11. Since then, almost 16 million US workers have
transitioned to remote work. The number grew even more as states started to
bring in lockdown orders.
companies such as Twitter and Square announced that their workers could
remotely indefinitely, while Facebook and Google announced that the workers
could work from home for the rest of the year. It seems that in the corporate
world, the new policy is work from home…at least for those jobs that don’t
require in-person presence.
The impact of work from home on workers
it will be a new normal in the long run, it might not be that way in the short
run. A study conducted by slack.com showed that first-time remote workers could
feel lonely, isolated, and overwhelmed. They might also feel distracted and
disconnected from the company as they have not had a chance to interact with
anyone from the company.
old time workers, it is mixed. Remote work has been shown to increase worker
productivity, leading to isolation and stress as the line between work and home
starts to blur. Managers also believe that the team would not work well as
creativity is suppressed. For workers who have children, schools’ closure
places an extra burden on them as they are expected to supervise their children
while working from home.
there are pros to working from home as well. For starters, when the workers are
working from home, they have the flexibility to work on their hours. Of course,
while the employees are expected to be on time for virtual meetings, the fact
is they can work on the hours they feel comfortable. Some people are just not
morning people. As a result, they were never very comfortable ingoing to work
so early. Now, with flexible timings, they can do so easily.
workers also enjoy working from home because they have the freedom to do as
they please. At work, sometimes, managers supervise to the point of
micromanaging their employees. It can leave employees feeling helpless and
frustrated. At home, they are given the autonomy to do their work, which
increases the level of motivation that employees have.
plus for the company is also a decrease in the number of sick leaves. When
employees work from home, they are less likely to take an off as it does not
entail coming to the office and sitting with other people. They can work from
the comfort of their beds without getting anyone else sick in the process. It
is a significant win for both parties.
The future of work from home
experts claim that work from home is here to stay. This means in the future; we
will see more people taking remote work positions. Activities that require the
use of lab equipment or operating heavy machinery cannot, of course, be done
remotely. Similarly, a job entailing driving a vehicle cannot be done remotely.
Such activities require people to come in and work from the site. Otherwise,
there can be no work done at all.
the other hand, data processing or information-gathering can be done remotely. Employees
need not come in. All they have to do is sit in front of their laptop, and the
work can be done. However, once again, we have to be careful about the nature
of the work. While it is true data can be analyzed remotely, data has to be collected
sometimes in person, especially if one is carrying out a survey. Once again,
there can be no generalizations.
advanced economies particularly, there is great potential to do the work
remotely. Jobs in business, insurance, and financial services account for a
significant share of jobs. They also have a lower share in agricultural occupations,
which allows for the transition to remote work.
as the world moves forward, remote work can be expected. However, experts claim
that it will be in hybrid form with some employees working from home, while
others will come to the site, depending on the skills required. McKinsey
carried out a survey of 800 corporate executives globally, and 38% of the
respondents stated that they expected their employees to continue work from
home after the Pandemic.
are implications for working from home as well. It can increase the
inequalities by providing flexibility and lower costs to the workers who can
work remotely while increasing the jobs’ precariousness that cannot be done
remotely. For women, it might lead to more domestic violence and place a
greater burden on them as women are expected to play the role of the homemaker
in addition to being an employee.
In the field of technology
conducted a study that indicated that the percentage of remote workers around
the world would double in 2021 as productivity showed an increase, especially
as decision-makers expected permanent remote workers to double to 34.4% in
2021. Previously, in the IT companies, the figure was only 16.4%.
How companies implemented work from home
instance, Activision Blizzar, a video game company in California, moved 99
percent of the workforce at home. They already had a work from home policy.
However, it was not evolved enough to support work from home on such a huge
scale. According to the chief people officer, Claudine Naughton, the remote
work policy did not take into account supporting employees who were dealing
with kids or other dependents at home.
meant they had to make even more adjustments to the work from home policy. HR
was required to give its employees more flexibility, especially when it came to
working hours. The company did so after much discussion. However, this was
something they had never done before.
the pandemic spread, HR also thought of new policies to cope with
health-related issues. The company covered all tests, and the employees were
given access to doctors if they became ill and needed medical help. It was not
only for the employees but also for their family members’ health costs. The
goal was for the employees to feel more comfortable while transitioning to work
from home and to ensure that the productivity level was maintained.
company also provided manager resources for the leaders, which they could use
to help the teams, keep them more focused on the task at hand and encourage
them to attend the daily meetings at a specific time. This company also placed
contingency plans for people with specific skills who might be absent.
was relatively easier for large tech companies to transition to remote working
as they had policies that were already in place. They did not face much of a
seems that the Coronavirus has impacted the world. Things might never go back
to the way they were. Therefore, it’s best that the employees feel comfortable
working from their homes as this might just be the future.
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SDI Labs, Inc.
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