Electronic health record systems are not the only information technologies being leveraged in the fight against the Ebola outbreak. A coalition of IT vendors has been established to distribute free information and timely updates on Ebola through mobile and web-based apps to healthcare professionals and consumers worldwide.

Health eVillages, a program of the not-for-profit Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and Physicians Interactive which provides mobile devices that include specialized medical reference content and clinical decision support tools to clinicians in developing countries, has launched the collaborative effort.

Under the partnership, Physicians Interactive will distribute information on Ebola through its free Omnio mobile and MedAlert Pro messaging applications. In addition, the Healthways, MedHelp, WELVU and Univadis platforms will be used by the coalition to reach healthcare providers in the U.S. and globally with breaking news, recommendations and guidelines related to the treatment of Ebola.

"It is extremely frustrating that there isn't a more aggressive, proactive and collaborative approach to distributing critical information digitally to healthcare providers in today’s mobile world," said Donato Tramuto, chairman and CEO of Physicians Interactive.

Healthcare providers will be able to access in one place the coalition’s digital platforms to review news stories, peer-reviewed medical journal articles, learning modules and newsletters on the disease. It will also include links to Ebola information on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and World Health Organization websites.

“With the global nature of the spread of Ebola, healthcare providers must be able to access this critical information, not only to care for patients, but also to take preventive measures so they don't acquire the virus as well," said Kerry Kennedy, president of the RFK Center.

(See also: EHR Vendors See Heightened Role in Ebola Fight)

In related news, Johns Hopkins Medicine has been tasked by the CDC to lead a group designing an interactive web-based learning program that will guide healthcare workers, nurses and physicians through government-approved protocols to aid clinicians as they care for patients who may be at risk for Ebola. Training modules will be available for free on the CDC’s website in the coming weeks and later available to iOS users on iTunes U, the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content.

In addition, a global platform for sharing Ebola-related open data is being spearheaded by IBM. Volunteers from the IT vendor are helping to identify, inventory and classify all open data sources related to the Ebola outbreak and are calling on organizations worldwide to contribute data. The goal is to create a cloud-based Ebola Open Data Repository which will provide governments, aid agencies and researchers with free and open access to valuable data.

To support the work, IBM volunteers helped organize a recent Ebola Open Data brainstorming session in New York where members of the local tech community met with health experts and aid organizations to develop open data solutions to help tackle Ebola.

"Data can be a powerful resource for managing and mitigating epidemics,” said Jeanne Holm, Evangelist for Data.Gov, the U.S. government website. “Governments and other organizations have valuable open data that could help in relief efforts—about roads, airports, schools, medical facilities and populations. Such information can help to drive data-driven decisions during times of uncertainty."

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