Sidd Pagidipati is a board member and co-founder of Simile Software, and Chief Executive Officer and Founder of InventCorp, where the main focus is developing world-class software for the healthcare industry. He was the co founder of the biggest Medicare Advantage HMO in the country that was privately owned – First Choice Health Plans, which was later on acquired by Anthem. Having grown 10,000+% over a 3-year period, First Choice Health Plans was ranked at the seventh place on the Inc 500’s fastest-growing companies in America in 2009.
Most people are in distress to the impact the Coronavirus will have, business-wise, financial, or otherwise, because we are all in a situation beyond our control. The chaos and the crisis result from the Coronavirus have upturned the finances and businesses of many people. Sidd Pagidipati offers some advice on how to help yourself, your family and friend during the current crisis we are facing.
Question: How to cope with financial stress during the coronavirus pandemic?
Sidd Pagidipati: You should focus on the tasks that you can control and accept that your life is going to be different for a while. It is quite a common worry about money in times of uncertainty, even for well-off people. You should take stock of the resource that you have if you’re increasingly worried about your finances. If you have been through money problems in the past like most of us have at some point in our lives, you should recognize what was the thing that got you through them.
Also, remember that this is not the time to go on a stock-buying spree if you don’t have a lot of savings. If you don’t have disposable income you shouldn’t gamble with the stock market. By staying safe and doing the right thing, you can mitigate the anxiety you’re feeling.
Question: What should a person do if their close friend asks for financial help?
Sidd Pagidipati: You should consider providing help if you’re getting a regular salary, your job is fairly secure and you have an emergency fund to help you override the crisis. On the other hand, if you just got a cut in salary or you’re expecting a job loss, you should first asses your own situation before helping others. It might be wiser to refuse politely if you don’t have enough funds to last you at least for the following six months. If you’re sure about your future salary, you should go ahead and offer help.
Also, you should consider what the person is planning to spend the money for. If your friend is purchasing essentials, needs the money for a medical emergency or has just lost his or her job, you shouldn’t be hesitant about helping. Hold the money if it isn’t really for an emergency.
Question: As a business owner, how should I respond to COVID-19 in regards to my employees?
Sidd Pagidipati: The virus is changing the day-to-day life and it has been emotionally challenging for many people. You can start by creating and implementing a plan that will support your employees. Some of the models we have seen that seem quite interesting involve providing simple and clear language to local managers on how to deal with the virus while giving them autonomy so they can feel capable to deal with a situation that is evolving quickly.
HR departments should gather information related to the virus to create an instructional guide for the employees that enlists ways on how to avoid and overall educates them about the viral infection. Effective communication is key here, so you are looking at videos. Infographics, town hall, chat groups, sticking posters on the wall, bulletins and any other type of media that could help spread the message to all of your employees. The gathered information should be from verified and credible sources, such as health professionals that are engaged in research about the virus or governmental agencies.
The best way to prevent contamination, given the fact that it can be transmitted from human to human, is allowing employees to work from home. However, this isn’t always possible, seeing how there is work that is dependent on the location. In these cases, you can avoid the viral infection by maintaining good personal hygiene and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers and face masks.
Question: How can technology be used to fight the pandemic?
Sidd Pagidipati: We can fight the virus more efficiently the better we track it. AI can learn to detect an outbreak by analyzing government documents, social media platforms, and news reports. Before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public warning, warning of the threat several days before was issued an AI by a Canadian startup BlueDot.
AI can also help healthcare workers in monitoring and detecting the virus efficiently. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, and Infervision, an artificial intelligence company, have built a diagnosis system that is powered by AI and can diagnose the virus in seconds.
During an outbreak, one of the fastest and safest ways to get medical supplies delivered to their destination is through drone delivery. Terra Drone is delivering quarantine material and medical samples between the People’s Hospital and Xinchang County’s disease control Centre with minimal risk. Drones can also be used for thermal imaging, tracking non-compliance to quarantine mandates, and patrolling public spaces.
A final thought: The coronavirus pandemic is a frightening and terrible situation. There is uncertainty about how bad will it get, how long will it last, and many other things. But we will get through it. The most important thing is to resist the urge to panic and take a deep breath. Panic will lead to irrational things, which will result in poor decisions on your behalf.