Ebola Outbreak Containment: Real-Time Task and Resource Coordination With SORMAS
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AbstractBackground: Since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, more than 11,000 people died. For outbreaks of infectious diseases like this, the rapid implementation of control measures is a crucial factor for containment. In West African countries, outbreak surveillance is a paper-based process with significant delays in forwarding outbreak information, which affects the ability to react adequately to situational changes. Our objective therefore was to develop a tool that improves data collection, situation assessment, and coordination of response measures in outbreak surveillance processes for a better containment. Methods: We have developed the Surveillance and Outbreak Response Management System (SORMAS) based on findings from Nigeria's 2014 Ebola outbreak. We conducted a thorough requirements engineering and defined personas and processes. We also defined a data schema with specific variables to measure in outbreak situations. We designed our system to be a cloud application that consists of interfaces for both mobile devices and desktop computers to support all stakeholders in the process. In the field, health workers collect data on the outbreak situation via mobile applications and directly transmit it to control centers. At the control centers, health workers access SORMAS via desktop computers, receive instant updates on critical situations, react immediately on emergencies, and coordinate the implementation of control measures with SORMAS. Results: We have tested SORMAS in multiple workshops and a field study in July 2015. Results from workshops confirmed derived requirements and implemented features, but also led to further iterations on the systems regarding usability. Results from the field study are currently under assessment. General feedback showed high enthusiasm about the system and stressed its benefits for an effective outbreak containment of infectious diseases. Conclusions: SORMAS is a software tool to support health workers in efficiently handling outbreak situations of infectious diseases, such as Ebola. Our tool enables a bi-directional exchange of situational data between individual stakeholders in outbreak containment. This allows instant and seamless collection of data from the field and its instantaneous analysis in operational centers. By that, SORMAS accelerates the implementation of control measures, which is crucial for a successful outbreak containment.
AffiliationHZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany.
JournalFrontiers in ICT
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