Mobile technology could help contain a flu pandemic

With wireless technology so ubiquitous in society today, you'd think that someone would figure out a way to set up field clinics and triage units to respond to, say, an outbreak of the H1N1 virus, where caregivers would have complete, secure access to data for any patient who happens to come by. There should be access, via telemedicine, to specialists as well. And for those with mild cases of swine flu, they ought to be able to receive care in their homes, with the visiting nurse or other health worker able to see patient records on a smartphone.

That's the scenario envisioned by FierceHealthIT editor Anne Zieger, who puts the current lack of healthcare connectivity in perspective by noting that public health officials are forecasting twice the normal mortality in the coming flu season, or 70,000 fatal cases of influenza nationwide. "The thing that ought to bug all of us is that if our health networking plans from years ago had gone right, we conceivably could have tracked disease patterns better, shared resources between hospitals and far-flung clinics, and warned communities on the edge of the pandemic that trouble was coming," Zieger says.

Equally disturbing is the fact that most of the necessary technologies already exist. "It's a crying shame we're still so uncoordinated on the health data networking and sharing level. Such a waste!" Zieger adds.

Ponder the possibilities:
- read Zieger's Editor's Corner from FierceHealthIT