New app helps doctors identify, treat drug-resistant infections

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

athenahealth has unveiled a new app designed to help physicians identify and treat bacterial infections at the point of care.

"Epocrates Bugs + Drugs," the first app developed by the Watertown, Mass.-based EHR vendor and Epocrates, the clinical decision support company it acquired in January, was unveiled this week at the Health 2.0 conference in Palo Alto, Calif. It's designed to give clinicians geolocated data about bacteria types and resistance patterns, enabling them to more quickly spot antibiotic-resistant bacteria like E. coli and staph and determine more effective treatments.

Officials say this app gives clinicians in the field a quicker means of identifying and containing bacterial infections before they turn into outbreaks.

“Epocrates Bugs + Drugs is a game-changer in the clinical toolbox," said Anne Meneghetti, Epocrates' executive director of medical information, in a press release. "Traditionally, hospitals have tracked resistance trends on inpatients. Now, Bugs + Drugs goes beyond the hospital setting, transforming lab results from athenahealth’s cloud-based EHR database of 15 million patients into geotargeted data to help physicians identify common and uncommon bugs in the communities where their patients live. Clinicians can access critical resistance information to formulate the best treatment plan.  It’s one step closer to personalized medicine.”

“This app is a perfect example of pairing athenahealth’s big data with Epocrates’ mobile expertise to better equip caregivers to make confident and efficient decisions in the moments of care," she added. "Decisions made in those moments can affect future antibiotic resistance for the entire population.”

The free app, available on iOS 7 devices in the Apple App Store, prompts clinicians to enter a patient's location. It then provides lists of bacteria that have been found in urine, blood and skin in that particular community, offers antibiotic drug options organized by organism susceptibility, and provides other information on drug dosage and contraindication information.

"The convenience of this app with its localized content provides great insights from an infectious diseases perspective," said Rajesh Gupta, an infectious disease specialist, in the press release. "The real-time, geographic-specific information of the proportions of specific organisms for a particular type of infection and the susceptibility profiles of those organisms allows for more prudent use of antibiotics, which is a major benefit to the patient and the health system."

Proof of the app's value is easy to find. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2 million people in the United States contract antibiotic-resistant infections each year, with 23,000 of them dying as a direct result and many more dying of conditions that were complicated by the infection.