Emory apps targeted to health sciences users
You're leaving a work meeting or cheering your child at a soccer game when the thought suddenly hits you: My annual physical is this week! Is it 8 a.m. Tuesday or Thursday? I need to renew one of my prescriptions, but which one is it?
Employees who receive their health care at Emory don't necessarily need a computer to check the particulars of their next doctor's appointment. They can access the same information by using the Emory Healthcare Patient Portal app on their IOS or Android smartphone or tablet.
Patient Portal is one of 27 apps now available to users through the Emory Mobile App Catalog. The internal catalog went public in June after a little more than a year of testing and development by Emory's Information Technology Architecture group and Apperian, the Boston-based company providing the mobile app distribution platform. The catalog includes apps specific to Woodruff Health Sciences Center users, along with university apps such as Emory Mobile and Box. All of the apps are free.
The Emory Mobile App Catalog was conceived as an internal mechanism for streamlining app distribution to Emory users. Instead of downloading apps from the Apple Store (for IOS users) or Google Play (for Android users), employees and students simply download them from the app catalog after they install it. As new Emory apps are developed, tested, and approved, they can be made available in less time than that required by Apple or Google. And new apps can be created and added to the catalog through an online review and distribution process.
Apps in the catalog serve different audiences and needs. EHMC (Emory Healthcare mobile clinicians) provides protocols, reference guides, and more for Emory clinicians. ReadyVax offers current information on vaccines and the diseases they prevent. SCIP for Surgery (surgical care improvement project) provides best practices for surgical patients. 3D Liver is an instructional aid on the surgical anatomy of the liver for medical students and residents. MTP (mass transfusion protocol), a research app, helps Grady trauma surgeons determine when patients need transfusion. The iChoose Kidney decision tool helps clinicians assess patient risk of dialysis versus kidney transplant. ReliefLink is a suicide prevention app developed by Emory's Nadine Kaslow for the public. And set to launch soon is WebEase, a self-management tool for people with epilepsy.
Until now, Emory IT experts lacked the ability to track and analyze app usage effectively, notes Stephen Wheat, chief information technology architect. The data they collected was largely anecdotal.
"The apps in our catalog now allow us to collect analytics," he says. "We can see who's using an app and monitor and track its usage. One of the things we are beginning to promote is asking people for feedback on the apps and their features. We want users to provide comments, good and bad. When you get feedback from hundreds or thousands of users, it can be eye opening.
"Very few universities have a cogent mobile strategy," Wheat adds. "One of the things that's driving Emory into this is the strong case for supportive technology. There's so much data collection on human behavior that needs to occur, and there's no better tool than a mobile app for collecting this information."
In recent months, Emory Healthcare has embraced this strategy by developing apps to support its quality initiatives. Two new apps are set to go live soon. Codes is an emergency code app that provides a uniform list for reporting cardiac, neonatal, and other life-threatening events. A second app, e-Vantage, will mirror a current online self-service human resources tool for EHC employees.
"Mobile technology allows us to make an intimate connection with humans," Wheat says. "It allows us to share information and communicate with people. Computers and the Internet transformed commerce, education, and other sectors. But they didn't transform the way we live. Mobile technology does that."—Pam Auchmutey
Widespread interest in microbiome research
Bacteria and other microbes that live within the human body are thought to influence not only digestive health but metabolic and autoimmune diseases as well, and possibly even psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. It is no wonder that the human microbiome is an increasingly hot topic, and growing numbers of researchers from a variety of disciplines are pursuing inquiries in this field.
Work here at Emory illustrates the growing interest in microbiome research:
Researchers here, for example, are planning Emory's first microbiome symposium in November, organized by Jennifer Mulle (epidemiology, public health), who recently co-authored an intriguing article on the relationship between the microbiome and autism spectrum disorders.
Microbial genomics expert Tim Read, infectious disease specialist Colleen Kraft, and intestinal pathologist Andrew Neish have formed an Emory microbiome interest group with a listserv and seminars.
Read has been involved in several microbiome sequencing projects, including one tracking MRSA microevolution within households. Kraft is known for her work on fecal transplant (among other things) and Neish's laboratory studies how interactions with bacteria contribute to intestinal epithelial integrity and healing.
Gastroenterology researcher Rheinallt Jones is establishing a gnotobiotic mouse facility for his research on the influences of the microbiome on host physiology. Genomics core director Mike Zwick notes that his team offers support for the workhorse of microbiome analyses, 16S RNA sequencing, and downstream computational analyses using tools such as Qiime or Mothur.
Research teams focusing on conditions such as Crohn's disease (Subra Kugathasan) have been contributing to large-scale microbiome studies; in addition, public health researcher Karen Levy and her group are engaging with international partners in microbiome work.
Note: it's not just about the intestines. Emory researchers are studying the lung microbiome in connection with cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (Joanna Goldberg and Arlene Stecenko in pediatrics), and the oral and vaginal microbiomes in relation to preterm birth in African American mothers (Elizabeth Corwin and Anne Dunlop in nursing).—Quinn Eastman (adapted from a Labland blog post)
Emory to lead national Ebola Training center
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced that Emory will serve as lead coordinating center of the National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) in collaboration with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (Bellevue Hospital).
With the collective effort between HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the CDC, and the three academic institutions, the program will support further training of health care providers and facilities on strategies to manage Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases. The program will be funded for $12 million over the next five years.
"Based on the knowledge we have gained from caring for patients with Ebola virus disease, Emory, Nebraska and Bellevue will develop and teach best practices to other health care workers who could be faced with caring for similar patients in the future," says Bruce Ribner, medical director of Emory University Hospital's Serious Communicable Disease Unit and principal investigator of NETEC.
NETEC objectives include the following:
- Develop metrics to measure facility and health care worker readiness to care for Ebola patients.
- Conduct assessments of regional and state Ebola treatment centers.
- Create and maintain educational materials related to care of patients with possible Ebola and other special pathogens.
- Support public health departments and health care facilities through training and technical assistance.
Emory and the University of Nebraska Medical Center have been working with CDC since December 2014 to train more than 460 health care workers from 87 health care systems, including 37 designated Ebola treatment centers, on all aspects of infection control and care for people with Ebola. The two institutions are offering additional training opportunities this summer for up to 400 staff from Ebola assessment hospitals. Read more.
"Hang in there—you know we're all pulling for you."
|Several months after his heart attack, Muse (left) took a motorcycle trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway with his son.
By some accounts, there was not a dry eye in the room by the time former heart attack patient John Muse finished speaking to a group at Emory University Hospital auditorium last April 21, recounting his experience at EUH the year before and expressing his thanks to Emory for saving his life.
Muse, an oral surgeon, was at his practice in Decatur on May 14, 2014, when he first realized he was having a heart attack. He alerted his nurse, who started an IV and called 9-1-1. When the ambulance arrived, Muse directed the EMTs to take him to Emory, a destination that required extra precious minutes of travel time. If the EMTs wouldn't take him there, his own staff would, he said, and the EMTs agreed to do so.
Once in the Emory emergency department, Muse went into ventricular fibrillation, in which the lower chambers of the heart quiver, leaving the heart unable to pump blood.
"The team started CPR and chest compressions in the doorway of the emergency room, where Dr. Muse turned blue and collapsed," says Jean Wheeler, a resident in the ED when Muse was brought in. "He was essentially dead, and we ended up shocking him with the defibrillator about seven times. We got to him literally the second he collapsed, and that was one of the instrumental things I think in helping his outcome."
Once his heartbeat was restored, he was rushed to the cath lab, where the team had been put on notice that a heart attack patient had been brought in. Interventional cardiologist Kreton Mavromatis treats patients with heart ailments in the cath lab daily but says Muse's case was particularly gratifying.
"He experienced sudden cardiac death, the most feared consequence of a heart attack, but due to quick and expert action, was resuscitated," says Mavromatis. "We were then able to quickly open up the blocked artery causing his problem and prevent sudden death from happening again, as well as heart failure down the road. I think that was the thing that made his case particularly satisfying. We took a person who suddenly became as sick as anyone can ever be and brought him back to full function."
Mavromatis and team stopped Muse's heart attack and restored blood flow using catheters and balloons and then placed a stent to keep the artery open.
Muse spent five days in the cardiac ICU, while his family, friends, and staff waited to see what his outcome would be. They mainly worried about brain function because his heart had stopped so many times. When he awoke, however, it was clear his brain function had remained intact. Tests showed he had virtually no heart damage either.
Now, almost a year later, Muse wanted to say thank you, not just for the quality, speed, and expertise of his treatment but for the care and compassion that accompanied it. To arrange an opportunity to do this, he contacted EUH CEO Bob Bachman, who invited him to speak at a monthly leadership meeting and arranged a luncheon afterwards where Muse and his office staff and family could meet with those who had been involved in his care.
Muse told his audience that he marveled at the technology and skill involved in his treatment and at the kindness that was so pervasive at EUH, from the specialist who explained to his family members the meaning of "ejection fraction" to the valet who brought the car around when Muse was discharged. One gentleman, said Muse, entered his room, introduced himself, and said he was there to take away the trash. Muse thanked him, and the man turned back to say, "Hang in there—you know we're all pulling for you."
"Emory saved my life," says Muse. "Saying thank you was really important to me." Read more. View a video about Muse's experience.