COVID-19

Unsure of what your symptoms mean? Soon, there will be an app for that

People feeling symptoms that may be caused by the coronavirus are encouraged to avoid traveling directly to a doctor’s office or emergency room without first consulting with a medical professional.

For those unsure of what there symptoms mean, now there’s an app for that. 

Or, at least, there will be in a few days.

Dr. Soumi Eachempati, a former emergency room surgeon and professor of public health, is working on a mobile app and web site with Ashley John Heather, the founder of The Spur, an organization and gathering place for local entrepreneurs, that was been based in Southampton and East Hampton.

The web site is www.fluchecker.com and app is called FluChecker.

Dr. Eachempati said the app was modified with the help Mr. Heather and other members of The Spur, which has been involved in health and food products, and other products in recent years.

For instance, Mr. Heather, working with chefs Jon Albrecht and Nick Resin, recently launched a company called Honest Plate, a weekly subscription-based meal service that provides healthy prepared meals across the East End, using a commercial kitchen in Riverhead. 

Dr. Eachempati is hoping Flu Checker will help people make decisions regarding whether they should be tested for the coronavirus or flu.

“I am a retired trauma surgeon and I now live in Sag Harbor,” Dr. Eachempati said.

He’s also been involved in the financial industry, he said.

That’s when he and others came up with a similar app called gonogo.com, “that we designed to facilitate decision-making for people thinking of going to the emergency room.”

That app’s name was “gonogo.com,” as in “should you go or not go” to the emergency room, and it tested people for a wide range of illnesses.

“In the last several weeks, because the flu symptoms have become so prominent, gonogo.com was modified into a separate app that would be specific to flu and coronavirus and dubbed “flu checker.”

“We thought it would be a great app for people before they called the doctor,” Dr. Eachempati said.

The point of the app is to help people determine if their flu symptoms are at a high risk for urgent medical attention, based on recommendations and questions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

These would be the same questions doctors would ask, and the same recommendations that CDC and FDA would make, Dr. Eachempati said.

“People don’t want to go to the doctors office because they don’t want to be hacking in the waiting room and making everyone else exposed. Or there might be embarrassment reasons, or cost reasons, too.”

The questions include things like how long has a person has had potential flu symptoms; has the person traveled to Wuhan City or Hubei province in China in the last 30 days; and whether they’ve had close contact with anyone who has coronavirus. 

Other questions deal with things like keeping liquids down, whether you are unsteady on your feet, and whether you have difficulty breathing.

At the end of the questions, the app will tell you whether you are high risk for coronavirus and whether you should go to a doctor.

Dr. Eachempati said most people who use the app or website will probably be in the early stages of the virus, if they have it at all.

“If you’re someone with fever of 105 degrees for five days, my app is not going to save your life, probably,” he said.

“It’s for somebody who is concerned but doesn’t want to call a doctor or go to a doctor, and just wants to know if they are high-risk or seriously high-risk.

“The app will be used as both a screening tool for those with flu or coronavirus and will also be used as a clearance vehicle for those who can then safely return to work,” he said.

The app, which is expected to be live on the week of March 16, is free, as is the website.

Dr. Eachempati is also hoping to partner with a public health facility or entity, which could put the questionnaire online and use themselves.

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