Crisis group adopts EHRs to treat Ebola patients in Liberia

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a crisis organization, plans to adopt electronic health records to help it treat the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, according to an article in Time.

Deployment of the system, slated to begin Dec. 15 in Monrovia, will enable clinicians to access patients' electronic records in high-risk areas via waterproof tablets, which will be destroyed when the unit is no longer needed, although the data itself will be kept. The EHRs will be used not only to help treat patients infected with Ebola, but also for contact tracing and population health.

Additionally, IRC intends for the data to be used as a repository of information available to physicians who may need information about Ebola, such as medication dosages.

The EHR system was developed by IRC's own technology team, with help from a health software company. This is the first use of EHRs to digitize Ebola records in the location of the Ebola outbreak, according to Time.

Currently, IRC's clinicians are recording treatment data by scanning documents, using white boards, communicating verbally and through memorization.  

"We think this has the potential to really change, not only how quality and safety is addressed in an Ebola situation, but it can also be adapted to any healthcare situation," Wilson Wang, a senior clinical advisor for IRC's Ebola response team, told Time.

EHRs continue to prove their effectiveness in situations where medical facilities and even electricity can be scarce. Both the Peace Corps and the Coast Guard adopted EHRs for use in the field. 

EHRs also are proving their worth in dealing with potential and actual outbreaks of disease among populations.

To learn more:
- read the article