Ebola and health tech: where it can help, where it failed (Updated)

 click to enlargeIgnore the sign…come on in, we can be quarantined together! Everyone is on Ebola-overload, so we will keep it short and sweet. The Gimlet Eye (recovering after an argument with a box, see below) advises a calm, adult-beveraged, low-media weekend with Mantovani, Bert Kaempfert or Percy Faith on the stereo.

  • Yes, digital health is addressing the needs that Ebola screening and care are generating. MedCityNews spotlights Medizone International’s AsepticSure peroxide/ozone aerial mist sterilizer which was originally developed to kill MERS and MRSA in field hospitals, to be tested by Doctors Without Borders in a 40-bed unit. Startup AgileMD launched a free mobile app for clinicians containing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Ebola prevention treatment guidelines (for what anything from CDC is worth….) Text message alerts used first in Sierra Leone are being expanded to seven West African nations for use by the Red Cross and Red Crescent (also BBC News). Sanomedics International has the TouchFree InfraRed Thermometer which is being used at US airports which are screening for passengers originating in West Africa, and Noninvasive Medical Technologies is promoting their ZOE fluid status monitor because it applies electrical currents externally to determine hydration levels.
  • Even crowdfunding’s getting into the act. Researcher Erica Ollmann Saphire and her colleagues at Scripps Research Institute are researching how the ZMapp antibody “cocktail” combats Ebola, but the $28 million grant from the NIH is running low now they are in ‘war status’. The funds will go for better instruments including one to perform fast protein liquid chromatography, or FPLC. Go to Crowdrise to help them reach their $100,000 goal.
  • Was the Dallas hospital’s failure to quickly diagnose Thomas Duncan on his first visit the clinicians’ fault or the EHR’s? This Dallas News article takes apart cumbersome EHRs, with too much, too ‘flat’ (it all looks alike) and too fragmented information. 1,400 pages of EHR data did not alert ER staff to the fact that Mr Duncan’s temperature escalated in four hours from 100.1 to 103ºF when he was discharged. And there’s the human factor: “All of these computer problems probably exacerbated human ones: In their medical training, physicians seldom receive sufficient guidance on the importance of consulting with or soliciting information from nurses.”

Update 20 October: Texas Health Dallas in recent days modified their Epic EHR to have the travel history documentation which was only in the nurse workflow to a field visible in the physician workflow and now captures the travel history at first point of contact. In addition it prompts for questions specific to Ebola. HealthDataManagement, iHealthBeat

  • Dateline: Madrid. If you haven’t read about the latest on the Spanish nurse–and the mystery of how she contracted it despite strict following of protocols — or Thursday’s Air ChanceFrance passenger who could be the city’s second case, here you go. Update 20 October: The nurse appears to have beaten it and is recovering (Business Insider) and the Air France passenger on first testing appears to be quite sick, but not with Ebola, along with three other Spaniards being quarantined and tested. (Local.es) Madrid’s Carlos III hospital appears to be a focal point for treatment for many health professionals and missionaries returning from Africa.
  • Code! Code! Code! The US has not yet adopted ICD-10 (deadline pushed back last spring) and since there’s no specific code for Ebola virus (ICD-10, A98.4) it’s lumped in with ICD-9’s 078.89, Other specified diseases due to viruses. The Coalition for ICD-10 believes the lack of tracking is a major public health problem, and HIT Consultant showcases their nifty infographic to show its effects on WHO’s tracking and response. However attitude-adjusted persons can agree…for Europe and North America, right now it’s the least of our problems. FierceHealthIT.
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