The coronavirus pandemic has forced frontline healthcare workers frequently putting their own health at risk every day. A new app by an exited, Philly-area founder wants to help change that.
Software company threshhold.world’s new COVID-19 Voice Screener app helps protect frontline health workers by allowing them to screen patients for COVID-19 in a touchless process.
Threshhold.world cofounder and CEO Dan Lammot — whose previous venture, roundCorner, was acquired by Salesforce in January 2019 — worked with his team to develop the voice-operated app in almost a month via Microsoft PowerApps, a process that required no coding on their part.
Watching the coronavirus spread had a “huge influence” in the way threshhold.world created its app, the cofounder said.
“We’re really concerned as a team about what’s going on in the world in general,” Lammot told Technical.ly. “We were restless about the state of the world before the global pandemic, so the idea was to be thoughtful and deliberate about holding the line in terms of the threshold of global poverty and unrest.”
For Lammot, stepping up and delivering something that could potentially help people with less tech equity was a goal in creating the voice-screening app.
“The pandemic has accelerated so many things in inequitable ways,” he said. “To me, it’s so obvious how many more issues we’ve had for so long. As we as a team look at what’s happening with Black Lives Matter and climate change, we make sure to do our part [as far as] developing technology and walking the walk.”
The touchless voice screener works by using text-to-speech technology to ask patients survey questions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. By holding the phone or tablet that operating the app to a patient’s face, the patient’s responses to the survey questions about COVID-19 can then be made available to any other applications in the Microsoft suite.
As a company that frequently works on ways of providing digital access to communities, threshhold.world plans for the voice screener to be free for nonprofits to use and will give businesses the access to use it for a price. Given the sensitivity around personal health information, Lammot says that his company — which worked out of an office in Ardmore before the pandemic — is taking its time in finding “the right customers.”
Digital COVID-19 tracking methods have raised questions about privacy in recent weeks. But Lammot sees his company’s app as more of a tool for organizational use, noting that its purpose is more to solve the problem of having less people involved in the COVID-19 screening process than tracking people that have tested positive for COVID-19.
“From a consent-management perspective it’s a lightweight experience,” he said. “We don’t retain recordings of people. We keep a record of where it was, but we’re not taking images of anyone and are just recording their voices. It’s a way to try to protect people’s identity.”
Looking beyond the COVID-19 Voice Screener, Lammot is excited about the work behind his team’s next big product: Software that will allow nonprofit program managers to streamline their workflow and spend more time with their beneficiaries.
roundCorner also created software for nonprofits: As an independent company and partner of Salesforce before the acquisition, its fundraising and grant management products were built on the Sales Cloud platform with Salesforce technology, Lammot said. But the company “added significant functionality specifically designed to support nonprofit fundraising and grant management processes.”
Some lessons from that first venture?
- Nonprofits are unique — “While they have much in common, their diversity is a reflection of the myriad challenges people and ecosystems face,” he said. “Finding a balance between scalable technical solutions and honoring necessary uniqueness is a critical success factor.”
- Team — “Everything ultimately relies on the commitment and quality of your team. This was true at roundCorner and is true at threshold.world.”
- Trust — “Unless there is authentic trust — between users and technology and nonprofits and our team and the platform we build upon — growth will be prioritized over mission.”
The COVID-19 Voice Screener app is now available and can be found here.Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
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