Digital Medicine

: 2017  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 95--97

The power of digital medicine to support self-directed care models during global pandemics

Kimberly Harding 
 President, Monarch Innovation Partners, Inc. and Arabica Blue, Inc., Rockville; Vice President, FEi Systems, Columbia, MD, USA

Correspondence Address:
Kimberly Harding
Monarch Innovation Partners Inc., Rockville, MD

How to cite this article:
Harding K. The power of digital medicine to support self-directed care models during global pandemics.Digit Med 2017;3:95-97

How to cite this URL:
Harding K. The power of digital medicine to support self-directed care models during global pandemics. Digit Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2018 Oct 16 ];3:95-97
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Full Text

One of the greatest threats to humankind is our collective inability to respond to concurrent global pandemics across disparate public health infrastructures effectively. In the past decade, based on annual communicable disease reports from the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control, we have experienced the most virulent waves of pandemics and the rapid evolution of vaccine-preventable and infectious strains of superbugs impacting health systems globally. The following is a short list of communicable diseases that continue to have a global impact in public health:[1],[2],[3],[4]

Avian influenza A (H7N9) virusEbola virusInfluenza at the human-animal interfaceMiddle East respiratory syndrome coronavirusPandemic (H1N1) 2009TB (multidrug-resistant [MDR] and extremely drug-resistant [XDR])Zika virus.

Despite effective surveillance models made available within the public domain, there remain disparate approaches to consistently address patient education and options for self-directed care, for high-risk regions of the world. This is compounded in areas where provider and health-care educator ratios cannot meet the growing demand at the patient level. For example, highly resistant strains of infectious diseases, such as TB-MDR and TB-XDR, have significantly impacted health-care delivery systems worldwide, reducing the resilience of public health agencies to rebound from the loss of provider networks that deliver critical health and human resources.

 The Power of One: Improving Public Health Awareness Through Mobile Platforms

Given these persistent barriers, we need to take a more focused look at greater adoption of digital health tools that influence individual behavior more effectively. We must look at empowering patients, through accessible digital communication channels, such as ubiquitous social media and mobile platforms that have been proven to support locally sustainable, self-directed health-care resources to protect themselves and their loved ones from being infected or spreading their infection. Collectively, these approaches for targeted vaccine and preventive medicine campaigns have impacted entire communities, where a shared culture of trust improves adoption of behaviors that align to public health protection. To illustrate the level of impact that one person can have in the spread of an infectious disease, the US-based National Public Radio provided a simple, yet very compelling diagram [Figure 1] of a single patient's ability to infect or prevent the spread of these highly contagious diseases when they choose to practice public health guidelines.[5]{Figure 1}

 Shared Service Model Supported by Mobile-Enabled Technology for Pandemic Awareness

Given the value that social media and mobile platforms can provide at the patient level to influence behavior, this will drive the development of more open-source knowledge management and mobile-friendly collaboration tools that support patient-level engagement models for pandemic events. These solutions should be person-centered and enable agile clinical decision support and timely medical interventions on a common platform. As a result, multidisciplinary teams will have portable tools that will enable them to deploy and refine their approaches to standardizing patient engagement protocols and outbreak containment exercises in a more predictable and reliable manner. The World Health Organization's third global report survey on eHealth provides evidence-based case studies from around the world that focus on the efficacy of deploying mobile technology for preventive health programs for communicable diseases with predictable success when replicated under controlled conditions.[6]

To provide an illustration of this, my organization has developed a conceptual framework called Project Orchid, which supports a shared service technology platform that supports self-directed care programs for patients who may be exposed to infectious disease or need to take precautions to prevent further spread of infection within their immediate area. [Figure 2] is an illustration of the conceptual design of Project Orchid. The framework is designed to support public domain technology standards and cloud computing models for critical access to multinational cohorts for pandemic clinical protocol management.[7]{Figure 2}

 Call to Action

Portable and ubiquitous mobile technology enables a rapid, ripple effect of public health awareness that is needed to curb the devastation of infectious diseases, one patient at a time. Digital medicine innovators in the domain of infectious disease control should continue to be motivated to embrace the great potential of integrating their solutions to open-source connectivity channels and mobile app frameworks. They are the new door to sustainable patient engagement for connected health solutions worldwide in the unpredictable impact of pandemic outbreaks.

Conflict of intrerest

None declared.


1WHO. WHO Emergencies, Preparedness, Response, Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases; 2017. Available from: [Last accessed on 2017 Jul 05].
2WHO. WHO Global Alert and Response (GAR), Biorisk Reduction, Infection, Prevention and Control in Health Care; 5 July, 2017. Available from: [Last accessed on 2017 Jul 05].
3CDC. CDC Global Health Index; 5 July, 2017. Available from: [Last accessed on 2017 Jul 05].
4CDC. CDC Diseases and Conditions Index; 5 July, 2017. Available from: [Last accessed on 2017 Jul 05].
5Doucleff M. NPR Health Shots – No Seriously, How Contagious Is Ebola? 14 October, 2014. Available from: [Last accessed on 2017 Jul 05].
6World Health Organization. Global Diffusion of eHealth: Making Universal Health Coverage Achievable. Report of the Third Global Survey on eHealth. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2016. [Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO].
7Harding K. Global health information technology models. Nanobiomedicine 2016;3:1-12.