New health app will help monitor possible outbreaks

By Kauthar Gool
Johannesburg, 09 May 2018
The app will be available free of charge on Google Play in about four weeks.
The app will be available free of charge on Google Play in about four weeks.

A health monitoring app developed by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) will soon be freely available on Google Play for doctors and nurses to use to report infections that are of public importance.

The Notifiable Medical Conditions app was developed by NICD on behalf of the National Department of Health to facilitate efficient and timely reporting of infectious diseases that could result in major public outbreaks and fatalities.

This is according to Dr Portia Mutevedzi, senior public health epidemiologist at NICD, who was at the forefront of the app's introduction.

The app comes after the listeria outbreak in SA claimed more than 193 lives earlier this year.

It allows for real-time notification of conditions at the point of diagnosis, with built-in SMS and e-mail alerts and feedback channels, notes NICD.

"Nurses and doctors can use the app to report infections soon after diagnosis via their mobile devices. Once the case is logged onto the app, information is transmitted to all relevant disease control personnel at local, provincial and national levels via SMS and e-mail."

NICD adds the rapid transmission of information facilitates timely disease control interventions and provides a platform for communication between and across sectors for a coordinated response.

"This new system utilises various data sources, including laboratory and medical schemes data to identify and address all medical conditions. The app has a reports dashboard providing statistics for disease burden and trends.

"The app also has an offline mode to enable cases to be logged in areas of intermittent network, with data automatically transmitted once connectivity is restored."

Although the app went live on 9 April, it is currently only available on the NICD Web site but will be downloadable on Google Play in four to six weeks, says Mutevedzi.

"NICD will not make money from the app as it was purely created to strengthen the reporting of outbreak-prone diseases."

Mutevedzi adds the app also serves as a communication platform for doctors and nurses.