Healthcare News & Insights

New apps help hospitals prepare for outbreaks, disasters

Hospitals now have three new tech tools to help prepare for cases of disease outbreak or disaster, thanks to Johns Hopkins.

187789489 (1)Scientists from Johns Hopkins’ National Center for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response (PACER) have created three online apps to help hospitals manage patient flow and care delivery during a catastrophic event.

The apps make it easier to anticipate what could happen after disaster strikes. That way, hospitals won’t be caught off guard. And the apps will provide hospitals with baseline knowledge that’ll help decision-makers allocate resources effectively.

As detailed in a news release from Johns Hopkins, the new apps are:

  • FluCast:  Because flu season is still in full swing, FluCast could be essential for hospitals. This program is designed to help workers in emergency departments and other healthcare pros estimate how many patients a specific hospital will treat for the flu in a week. Data is based on historical trends for individual hospitals, as well as info from Google Flu Trends.
  • Surge: Hospital departments, particularly intensive care units, can use this tool to find out how well they would handle a surge in the patient population caused by a disaster, pandemic or other significant event. The apps let hospitals simulate how they’d use their resources to make room for extra patients.
  • EMCAPS 2.0: This app can prep hospitals for “doomsday” scenarios. It allows users to make an estimate of the potential scope of the injuries and deaths from 11 different kinds of disasters. The disasters, identified by the U.S Department of Homeland Security, include an open-air explosion, a nuclear event, widespread food contamination and toxic gas release.

Vital planning tools

Using these apps together or on their own, hospitals can create a plan for handling a disaster so they can continue to provide the best patient care possible in a challenging scenario.

And the best part about the apps? They’re available to all hospitals.

After registering on the PACER apps website, hospitals can download these tools at no cost. The apps are only available for computers right now, but scientists are working on making them compatible with tablets and smartphones in the near future.

Any hospital concerned with the effect that a large flu outbreak or other unexpected health event could have on their care delivery may want to make these tools a part of their planning efforts.

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