We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 11/30 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Vanessa Carter (@_FaceSA) on the topic of “The Global Impact of Health IT”.
Global health pandemics like antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance are among the most critical issues to tackle and in future will require robust, harmonious data surveillance systems along with mass co-operation between the animal, human and environmental health sectors across every country . This is known as One Health . WHO initiatives like GLASS (Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System) have been implemented to work towards these goals .
To help understand the topic of antibiotic resistance, let me start by saying that antibiotics treat bacterial infections whereas antimicrobials are a much broader term used to describe medicines that treat other types of microorganisms that cause infection. These other types of microorganisms include parasites (e.g. Malaria), fungi (e.g. Candida) and viruses (e.g. AIDS). All of these microbial infections are categorised as Communicable Diseases or Infectious Diseases. Antibiotics fall under the antimicrobial umbrella and they kill a microorganism known as bacteria. Antimicrobials, and particularly antibiotics are the cornerstone of modern medicine because they are used in all areas of disease treatments where the immune system is compromised including HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, as well as Non-Communicable Diseases like Cancer and Diabetes where acquiring an infection is common such as during Chemotherapy. Antibiotics are also used for your everyday Strep throat, Gastrointestinal Infections (e.g. “Tummy bug”) or Urinary Tract Infections. They are also prescribed daily by dentists when we have tooth infections or for routine surgeries. Unfortunately, we are overusing antibiotics and bacteria are evolving resistance fast. This means that antibiotics are no longer working to treat common bacterial infections for many of these health conditions. What is even more frightening is that there are very few antibiotics in the pipeline. Some big pharma companies having abandoned research and development due to a lack of global data which helps to report prescribing and consumption behaviours which are contributing to resistance .
Antibiotic resistance is caused in various ways including through the overprescribing and misuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals. Resistant bacteria can also spread through bad hygiene practice (e.g. hand washing) or food production. The continual rise of antimicrobial resistance was recognised by the United Nations in 2016 in a high-level meeting as a serious threat to global health and human development  because of its severity and complexity. It has further been compared to climate change by UK economic experts like Lord Jim O’Niell  and invested in excessively by organisations including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust , particularly in Low-to-Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) where health systems are distressed and disease burdens are high.
This world has become increasingly more connected through trade and travel too, therefore tracking the spread of antibiotic resistance will probably remain impossible until we leverage the benefit of today’s digital technology to collect, process and analyse surveillance data at a national and global level. Whether or not and how health IT companies design solutions in the future taking this into consideration remains to be understood. For example, does it mean technology like EHRs should travel with us so that we improve our ability to capture holistic data, even when we’re out of our own country? What happens if we take a course of antibiotics and it never gets captured on our medical record, or worse, we pick up a disease and travel back afterwards with no data and that bacteria is a threat to our community. Shouldn’t we be considering these data gaps in all our systems? One thing is certain, without global surveillance, we couldn’t possibly begin to tackle this deadly pandemic that affects us all.
Join us for this week’s #HITsm chat where we talk about this global health challenge and how IT could potentially help with the problem.
Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: What do you think makes global health IT difficult to achieve? #HITsm
T2: What technologies do you think could collect global data for antibiotic resistance? (e.g. EHRs) #HITsm
T3: How do you think global health IT could benefit other medical conditions? #HITsm
T4: What are you seeing locally that you would like to see spread globally? #HITsm
T5: Why do you feel global health IT is important to achieve? #HITsm
Bonus: With global health barriers like culture, education & language, how do we overcome that with technology? #HITsm
Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
12/7 – Healthcare Leadership
Hosted by Michelle Currie (@mshlcurrie)
12/21 – Holiday Break
12/28 – Holiday Break
We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.
If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.