The Nossal Institute for Global Health and the School of Computing and Information Systems, both at The University of Melbourne, have entered into a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Twilio, to initiate a WhatsApp channel that enables the compilation of voice memos from health workers across Australia and the world on their challenges and successes in the face of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.
We will ask health workers to share their stories through simple voice memos which will give us insight into the specific challenges they face, as well as solutions proposed and innovations undertaken, by both health workers and the health systems in which they work. The stories will also convey the range of coping strategies adopted by health workers over time. The hope is that the sharing of stories will also provide cathartic purpose for health workers.
We have so much to learn from each other. Here are some of the stories shared by health workers with Health Worker Voices.
Participation in the platform will be free and open to all health workers, enabling an extensive data repository of stories:
- both from within Australia and across the world – to include a range of high, middle and low income countries, and from a range of urban, per-urban and rural settings within countries;
- from all levels of the health system and from a full spectrum of health worker cadres - from community health workers, to residential aged care workers and hospital intensive care units;
- spanning all phases of the pandemic - including crisis, subsequent epidemic waves, post-pandemic recovery and preparedness for future pandemics.
There are two important areas in which the COVID-19 Health Worker Voices channel aims to make a contribution to knowledge.
The first is by illuminating the texture of the lived experience of health workers as they grapple with the challenges to their health system of COVID-19. By its nature, the content we capture will be self-directed and therefore representative of what is important, indeed front-of-mind, for health workers right now. We anticipate instructive feedback regarding the triumphs of health systems and the personnel that enable them to function, as well as the human experience of the many complex contemporary challenges universally confronting health workers.
The second is exploration of AI as a complement to traditional qualitative data analysis approaches. It is not our aim to reduce the subtlety and nuance of complex verbal testimony to key word and phrase frequencies. Instead we will explore the capacity of AI to organize a large, varied dataset into themes for further analysis that utilise traditional methods. Should the capacity of AI to perform this function be found to approximate the results of a traditional approach, our ability to appropriately and usefully capture and analyse large qualitative datasets will be greatly enhanced.
The findings of the project will be analysed through automated intelligence and more formal methods of qualitative data analysis with weekly updates through this webpage once the channel is launched.
The idea was borne from the experience of other epidemics/ pandemics, principally the recent Ebola pandemic, which highlighted that in order for valuable lessons to be learned around support needs, the response capacity and resilience of health systems, insight is needed into how decisions are made and with what effect, as the public health needs evolve.
Such data are challenging to collect in hindsight. We seek to gather individual health worker testimony as an archive for analysis both during the current crisis, as well as afterwards to inform retrospective evaluative work and efforts to boost future preparedness of health systems.
How it works
If you are a health worker please follow this link to WhatsApp on your smartphone to share your story now, and to keep sharing at any time. The link will take you to a private chat. Simply type ‘hello’ to get started, then follow the prompts from there!
For a demonstration, please take a look at our instructional video to the left, or click the button below to get started!
Daniel Strachan, Katherine Gilbert and Clare Strachan
Nossal Institute for Global Health, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne