Software Helps City Officials Track Outbreaks

Milwaukee's municipal government uses an emergency room management application that includes a Web-based syndromic surveillance system for spotting potential epidemics, said Dr. Seth Foldy, the city's health commissioner.

The emergency room application was developed by the Frontlines of Medicine Project, a nationwide collaboration among doctors and medical IT specialists that is marketed by Infinity HealthCare Inc.'s EMSystem division. Both the Frontlines project and EMSystem are based in Mequon, Wis.

Foldy said the Frontlines group added a SARS surveillance tool earlier this month. The SARS component consists of a Web-based form that emergency room personnel can download to record and track any SARS-type symptoms patients are experiencing as well as any recent trips the patients have taken to China or other countries where SARS outbreaks have been documented.

If a patient shows signs of the disease and has recently visited a known SARS zone, hospital workers are instructed to call Milwaukee's health department immediately. Otherwise, hospitals upload symptom data to local health officials at the end of each day.

Foldy said he would like to see the data transfer automated in order to free hospital clinicians from the need to fill out forms.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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