E-Health services ill-prepared for epidemics

National and international organizations are ill-prepared to exploit e-health systems in the event of the emergence of a major pandemic disease, according to a research paper to be published in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology.

E- and associated information technology could radically alter the course of a pandemic disease, such as a major outbreak of influenza internationally. It could provide , emergency services, patients and those at-risk with access to much-needed data on how disease is spreading and what measures could be taken to halt its progress. Unfortunately, suggest Junhua Li of the Asia-Pacific Ubiquitous Healthcare Research Centre (APuHC), at The University of New South Wales, Australia, and colleagues, the widespread adoption of e-health represents a significant disruption to current healthcare protocols and systems and stakeholders are not in a position to take full advantage of it.

Emergent infections have spread wildly throughout human history, plague, influenza and more recently SARS and MERS have claimed many lives. With the advent of global air travel, the potential for a previously unknown strain of an animal pathogen to jump the species gap and cause widespread human illness seems to be much greater than it ever was in the days when a round-the-world trip would take many months rather than a day or two.

Conversely, technology has brought us a much greater capacity through to treat those infected and to stymie the spread of any given pathogen. Additionally, fast global communications and super computers allow information and data concerning any given disease to be shared and studied in ways that were not possible even a decade ago.

Li and colleagues, Holly Seale, Pradeep Ray, Amina Tariq and Raina MacIntyre, suggest that the adoption of e-health principles could allow to mitigate against the spread of , and perhaps other emergent pathogens. They have devised a multi-pronged approach to assessing the preparedness of authorities and organizations to utilize effectively e-health on the basis of specific knowledge, supportive policies, computing and communications facilities and access and adequate funding. Their approach should allow organizations to ascertain what is missing from their e-health systems if they have them and to implement the necessary technology and protocols where they are absent before a pandemic hits.

More information: "Are organizations prepared for e-health implementation to respond to pandemic influenza?" in Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, 2013, 11, 215-230

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A grid approach to pandemic disease control

Jun 15, 2011

An evaluation of the Public Health Grid (PHGrid) technology during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic could enhance the capabilities of epidemiologists and disease-control agencies when the next emergent disease appears, according ...

Measuring the uncertainties of pandemic influenza

Jul 02, 2012

A major collaboration between US research centers has highlighted three factors that could ultimately determine whether an outbreak of influenza becomes a serious epidemic that threatens national health. The research suggests ...

Recommended for you

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

26 minutes ago

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

7 hours ago

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

7 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.