Mobile communications could help contain H1N1 outbreaks

We haven't even hit the autumnal equinox and already my local Walgreens is advertising flu shots, hinting that this could be one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. And this isn't even the vaccine that protects against the H1N1 strain, commonly known as swine flu. I'm no expert on pharma and vax issues, but I understand that nobody has really developed an effective vaccine for H1N1 yet, or if there is one, it's currently not ready for mass distribution.

Good thing we have mobile communications, right?

No less than three companies have contacted me in the past week to tell me that they have technology to help get the word out about any pandemic outbreak, with the emphasis on the pandemic on everyone's minds these days--namely H1N1. Cincinnati-based General Data Co. released a mobile application called E.V-Trax that helps hospitals and other healthcare organizations to know how many of their employees and staff physicians have gotten their shots. There's been news in the last few days that healthcare workers--you know, the people who work around germs all day--have been rather lax when in comes to vax.

From AnyWare Group, we get ROAM Disaster Preparedness, which provides first responders and other health professionals with remote access to healthcare databases if and when an outbreak or other emergency restricts access to a facility. The company just happens to be headquartered in Toronto, where memories of the 2003 SARS epidemic are still fresh and the citizenry is being extra cautious about swine flu.

The third bit of news is courtesy of Mobile, AL-based TeleVox Software, which reminded us this week that back in May, its technology helped Texas Children's Health Plan deliver automated messages to the parents or guardians of 200,000 members in a one-day period when the first swine flu scare hit. "What other medium can deliver targeted communications to thousands of patients in a single hour?" the publicist asked via email. Well, television, for one. But the point is taken. Pick your platform--voice, IM, SMS or email--and get informed quickly, no matter where you happen to be. And if you happen to catch the H1N1 virus, a good place to be is home. - Neil