EHRs in the Age of Ebola: Discuss on InformationWeek

With concerns about Ebola at a fever pitch, the government, hospitals, and doctors are investigating whether technologies such as EHRs hold the key to tracking and fighting the virus.

Oct 27, 2014, 09:00 ET from InformationWeek

NEW YORK, Oct. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In the last few weeks, Ebola has gone from a localized health concern in parts of Africa to a worldwide crisis when a traveler to United States came down with the virus and died, and two nurses were infected.

While much of the cable news talk focused on how this could happen, the use of modern technology, such as electronic health records (EHRs), to help find, combat, and control Ebola went largely unnoticed.

This week, InformationWeek Healthcare Editor Alison Diana fills in those gaps by explaining how the US government, along with doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and hospitals, has increasingly turned to technology to get better data on Ebola.

Diana's story, "Ebola: 10 Tech Responses To Deadly Disease," uses interviews with several major healthcare practitioners to measure the response to the Ebola, and how technologies such as EHRs, data analytics, and clinical decision support software have changed the way deadly diseases are diagnosed and treated.

Like other large businesses that are relying more on data and analytics to make critical decisions, many in the healthcare field believe this is the time to use technology more effectively. As BeyondCore CEO Arijit Sengupta told Diana:

"They're taking one or two cases and having a lot of scary discussions on TV. We need to alleviate this. It's a crisis we shouldn't let go to waste. This isn't a pandemic yet. If this was a real pandemic, how should we approach this?"

While technology may hold the key to tracking Ebola, it's also a massive undertaking not only for hospitals and clinics, but also for the IT staffs that support these institutions. For instance, nearly 1,000 different EHR vendors had to modify their applications to take into account travel histories of patients.

In addition to Diana's story, InformationWeek has further coverage of how technology is helping to respond to Ebola, including:

Every week, InformationWeek tells the story of how technology is changing our lives and the way we do business. This week, InformationWeek highlights the challenges Ebola makes for healthcare technology. As always, the editors and writers welcome your questions and comments on the InformationWeek website. Please join our conversation today.

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