Mobile health, medical technology race to assist in combating Ebola
October 15, 2014
While the medical world races to treat Ebola, with vaccines and treatments being developed as quickly as possible, mobile technology and digital health could likewise go a long way in combating the virus.
Ever since Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person in the U.S. to die from complications related to the virus in a Dallas Hospital, spreading it to a nurse and possibly other employees, concern has been mounting, particularly among front-line healthcare workers who contend many hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with the potential threat.
A number of technology-enhanced efforts are underway across the globe, ranging from the expansion of text-message-based alerts throughout West Africa to hospital sterilization efforts in both the U.S. and abroad, among scores of other quickly-developing tools.
One is San Francisco-based Medizone International’s AsepticSure, developed with a hospital and researchers in Canada to combat hospital-acquired infections like MRSA and MERs. Recently, the company said it could be applied to the Ebola virus by disinfecting portable field hospitals.
The AsepticSure device, which uses a mist of ozone and hydrogen peroxide to kill 100 percent of all bacteria and viruses, has already been demonstrated in the field with representatives from Doctors without Boarders and other relief agencies.
Now, Doctors without Boarders has asked Medizone to design a prototype 40-bed field hospital – what could be the first of its kind – to incorporate AsepticSure’s disinfection system, a spokesman told MedCity News via email.
“Based on the results of research recently completed with the National Research Council Viral Laboratory in Montreal, we can now safely state that AsepticSure will eliminate 100 percent of both Ebola and MERS in enclosed spaces such as hospital rooms. Now, we have proven this in tents,” Medizone President Dr. Michael Shannon said.
In the mobile health realm, San Francisco startup AgileMD, part of Rock Health and Y-Combinator, just yesterday launched a free mobile app for doctors and nurses containing the CDC’s Ebola prevention treatment guidelines, CEO and co-founder Borna Safabakhsh said.
“We have helped doctors at the World Health Organization use similar technology to rapidly train doctors in the Middle East for patients affected by chemical weapons, and the same mobile technology and tools here can help nurses and doctors get a step ahead of where they are today in knowing how to safely identify, isolate and care for patients with Ebola,” Safabakhsh said.
Miami-based Sanomedics International is also looking to prevent spreading of the disease with it’s TouchFree InfraRed Thermometers, an FDA-approved device that it says could help with early detection efforts at hospital, clinics and other healthcare settings. It has also begun service at major U.S. Airports to screen passengers traveling from high-risk locations.
Similarly, Las Vegas-based Noninvasive Medical Technologies, or NMT, says its ZOE fluid status monitor can be applied to Ebola patients. It applies electrical currents to the body to determine how much hydration levels have changed. Marc O Griofa, chief medical and technology officer, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the monitors can help healthcare workers quickly identify the virus and thus reduce the risk of it spreading.
NMT is awaiting word from the CDC to hear when it would be able to demonstrate the ZOE monitors. They have already been used to to monitor dengue fever patients in Malaysia, according the Review Journal.
Mobile technology figures to factor in significantly, Dr. Joel Selaniko told Voice of America. He runs a company, Magpi, that uses mobile data collection and messaging software to help disseminate accurate information during crisis situations.
“What Magpi does is it recognizes that within global health, for example during this Ebola outbreak, there’s a lot of information that needs to be collected,” Dr. Selanikio told Voice of America.
There are undoubtedly scores of other examples. Stay tuned for more updates.