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Development of ClickClinica: a novel smartphone application to generate real-time global disease surveillance and clinical practice data

Benedict Daniel Michael1* and David Geleta2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, 1st Floor, Ronald Ross Building, 8 West Derby Street, Liverpool L69 7BE, UK

2 Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool, Ashton Building, Ashton Street, Liverpool L69 3BX, UK

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013, 13:70  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-70

Published: 2 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Identification and tracking of important communicable diseases is pivotal to our understanding of the geographical distribution of disease, the emergence and spread of novel and resistant infections, and are of particular importance for public health policy planning. Moreover, understanding of current clinical practice norms is essential to audit clinical care, identify areas of concern, and develop interventions to improve care quality.

However, there are several barriers to obtaining these research data. For example current disease surveillance mechanisms make it difficult for the busy doctor to know which diseases to notify, to whom and how, and are also time consuming. Consequently, many cases go un-notified. In addition assessments of current clinical practice are typically limited to small retrospective audits in individual hospitals.

Therefore, we developed a free smartphone application to try to increase the identification of major infectious diseases and other acute medical presentations and improve our understanding of clinical practice.

Description

Within the first month there were over 1000 downloads and over 600 specific disease notifications, coming from a broad range of specialities, grades and from all across the globe, including some resource poor settings.

Notifications have already provided important information, such as new cases of TB meningitis, resistant HIV and rabies, and important clinical information, such as where patient with myocardial infarctions are and are not receiving potentially life-saving therapy.

The database generated can also answer new, dynamic and targeted questions. When a new guideline is released, for example for a new pandemic infection, we can track, in real-time, the global usage of the guideline and whether the recommendations are being followed. In addition this allows identification of where cases with key markers of severe disease are occurring. This is a potential resource for guideline-producing bodies, clinical governance and public health institutions and also for patient recruitment into ongoing studies.

Conclusions

Further parallel studies are needed to assess the clinical and epidemiological utility of novel disease surveillance applications, such as this, with direct comparisons made to data collected through routine surveillance routes.

Nevertheless, current disease surveillance mechanisms do not always comprehensively and accurately reflect disease distribution for many conditions. Smartphone applications, such as ClickClinica, are a novel approach with the potential to generate real-time disease surveillance data that may augment current methods.

Keywords:
Epidemiology; Audit; Clinical practice; Quality improvement; iPhone; Smart phone; Application; Guidelines