Stop Ebola: How an IT update can make a difference at your ASC

punzakIn just a few short weeks, the deadly Ebola virus has changed from a tragedy unfolding in West Africa to a real threat here in the United States.  

Healthcare providers and organizations in the United States have scrambled to institute policies and procedures as the news on Ebola has changed rapidly, often on a daily or hourly basis.
 
The key to halting the spread of Ebola is identifying infected individuals as early as possible and getting them isolated before they can infect other people. Although there is currently no "cure" for Ebola, evidence suggests that early supportive treatment including i.v. hydration, markedly improves chances of survival.
 
A common misperception is that emergency rooms, urgent care centers and primary care practices are the places most likely to encounter a patient infected with Ebola. However, with approximately one in four people in the United States (75 million) having surgery every year, ambulatory surgery centers and hospitals have been quick to add questions about possible exposure or infection with Ebola to their standard list of preop screening questions.  
 
"Every time a patient interacts with the healthcare system is an opportunity to do a quick screening and potentially save a life and halt the spread of Ebola," notes Stephen Punzak, MD, an anesthesiologist who is also the CEO and co-founder of One Medical Passport. "We started getting facilities asking us to add Ebola screening questions to One Medical Passport a few weeks ago. Fortunately, we had prepared for this and just had to activate the additional questions for those facilities. Because One Medical Passport is cloud-based, we just have to 'flip a switch' on our end to add the new questions, without having to run around and install software upgrades on thousands of computers in hundreds of medical facilities."
 
The Ebola outbreak has highlighted the importance of thorough pre-admission screening as not only a tool to optimize each patient's care, but also as a chance to perform a vital, potentially life-saving public health function. The exact role that cloud-based pre-admission software has to play in the fight to stop Ebola in the U.S. has yet to be fully determined, but it certainly offers facilities the best chance to uniformly screen large numbers of patients before they arrive at a medical facility and potentially infect other patients and staff.

One Medical Passport is used in more than 500 ASCs and hospitals as the pre-admission system. The system red-flags warnings on Ebola risk based on the added questions.  

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