This study conducts a comprehensive literature review to demonstrate the capabilities of IT in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. A conceptual framework for an IT-based pandemic response is proposed based on a literature review and expert knowledge (see Figs. 2 and 3). Iran’s practical experience shows that various types and capabilities of IT were not used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. IT applications used against the COVID-19 outbreak are classified into six core topics in our proposed framework, namely: (1) Prevention, (2) Diagnosis, (3) Treatment, (4) Follow-up, (5) Management, and (6) Protection.
Technologies highlighted for prevention purposes include M-health [4, 9, 16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28], Internet search query, Telehealth [9, 13, 17, 20, 22, 29,30,31,32,33], robots [9, 13, 16, 23, 29, 30], IoT [9, 23, 29, 30, 34,35,36], AI [16, 23, 29, 30, 35, 37,38,39,40,41,42,43], big data analytics [4, 29, 30, 35, 42, 44], and social media [13, 17, 21, 29]. M-health, internet search queries, and social media have all been used in Iran during the current pandemic. According to a study, VR, robotics, infection control systems, and AI methods should be considered more heavily during prevention . Additionally, their findings indicated that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no pre-crisis efforts directed at COVID-19 prevention. Strategic planning is required to maximize the capabilities of Iran’s IT n order to contain the outbreak’s spread.
Various technologies have been considered to aid in the diagnosis of COVID-19, the most prominent of which are M-health [9, 16,17,18,19,20,21,22, 24, 27, 28, 31, 47], Telehealth [9, 17, 20, 22, 30, 31, 33], AI [23, 29, 30, 37,38,39,40, 42, 43, 48,49,50], drones , IoT [4, 9, 23, 30, 34, 36], and robots [9, 16, 29]. According to a study, AI, web-based genome detectives, Telehealth, M-health, IoT, surveillance systems, robotics, and DSS were all used to diagnose and detect COVID-19 patients until July 2020 . Ye et al. (2020) reported that AI-based scenarios, such as drones, intelligent diagnosis (e.g., deep learning-based computer-aided diagnostic system), temperature detection (e.g., airport infrared thermal cameras), and robots (e.g., decontamination, medication delivery, and vital sign assessment), were critical in the detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 in China . In Iran, E-Health is used to diagnose infected individuals or those suspected of being infected, while a chest CT scan is used to diagnose COVID-9. However, many potentials of IT have not been utilized for diagnostic purposes in this country; consequently, additional opportunities for using IT for diagnostic purposes are required in this country. For instance, AI should be used to determine the severity of COVID-19 (see Fig. 3).
By providing various services, IT has aided in treating COVID-19 disease. We understand that effective treatment is contingent upon the discovery of COVID inhibitors. As a result, the use of information technologies such as AI [29, 37, 40], and VR  have a facilitating role in vaccine discovery. Other technologies, including M-health [9, 16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24, 27, 31], and telemedicine [9, 13, 20, 22, 30,31,32,33], are also effective approaches in treating patients at home. Additionally, big data analytics , 5G networks , and video games  can be used to advance treatment goals by facilitating healthcare decision-making, teleconsultation, and drug discovery. In Iran, only a few E-health capabilities (e.g., electronic care for people in quarantine, performing health inquiry services, responding to patients via online and off-line consultation systems, and Telemental) have been used to accomplish treatment objectives during this period. Other technologies should be used to treat and monitor patients in this country (see Fig. 3).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, IT applications for management and planning were highlighted. Various technologies, such as GIS [4, 9, 17, 51, 52], M-health [9, 17,18,19,20, 23, 24, 27, 28], blockchain [4, 23, 30, 35, 46], and IoT [4, 9, 29, 30, 34,35,36] have been used for a variety of purposes, including control, monitoring, and tracking, information sharing, data visualization, and enabling a secure donation platform. Moreover, the use of DSS [9, 35], big data analytics [4, 29, 30, 35, 44], surveillance system , 5G network , Internet search query , video games , and EHR  are examples of additional digital solutions that can aid in decision making, data analysis, prediction, and resource allocation. Management and control of pandemic status are impossible without using IT capabilities. In other words, information technology can aid governments and decision-makers in decision-making and pandemic management by providing real-time data, facilitating information sharing, data analysis, and knowledge about valuable tools for pandemic control.
In Iran, the benefits of IT for managing and controlling the COVID-19 outbreak have been prioritized over other objectives. Consequently, decision-makers may benefit from using databases, dashboards, surveillance systems, E-health, and HIS to manage the COVID-19 disease. It is worth noting that one of Iran’s primary challenges is the proliferation of databases and information resources, which has resulted in a dearth of accurate information. As a result, it is necessary to integrate this data using data mining techniques and AI to create valid databases. Furthermore, the use of IT to control the costs of consumables and medications should be considered. Moreover, centralized and online control of hospital beds is required to increase hospital productivity. Subsequently, our proposed framework calls for the adoption of additional digital solutions in this country.
IT has also aided in the achievement of protection goals; for example, the use of drones  and robots [9, 16, 23, 29] reduced the workload of healthcare workers and minimized human interaction; similarly, other technologies such as AI [23, 29, 35, 37,38,39,40, 42], and IoT [4, 9, 23, 34,35,36] has the potential to significantly reduce healthcare workers’ workloads and facilitate the implementation of public health interventions. Additionally, by utilizing AR, patients’ data can be sent directly to the healthcare system without any contact or paperwork in triage. Moreover, E-health [9, 20, 22, 31, 33] [17, 18, 24, 25, 27, 28] is another digital solution that can help minimize human interaction, particularly during the quarantine period. In Iran, the absence of protective measures is more pronounced. As a result, more attention should be paid to the use of assistive technologies to protect individuals against COVID-19 disease.