On September 9, the new feature film Contagion from Warner Bros. Pictures, Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi will be released in theaters nationwide. The picture sports an all-star cast and revolves around a rapidly spreading virus that threatens to infect millions of people.
Of course it’s a fictional movie, but that’s not to say it’s completely fake. The film’s depiction of how public health workers track the deadly outbreak shows them using a technology similar to HealthMap, a real-life online surveillance system designed to track emerging infectious disease threats. Co-founded by John Brownstein, PhD and Clark Freifeld of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Informatics Program, HealthMap has over a million users a year including regular users from the World Health Organization, the CDC and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. …
WBUR recently did a story on the new software. “We felt that music, in some sense, can serve as a translator,” Alterovitz said in the piece. “There’s more and more information presented, so…we need a way to present it to the brain…in a way that it can handle it.”
Last fall, a group of leading thinkers and entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors gathered to discuss an idea that originated with Harvard’s Isaac Kohane and Ken Mandl — the development of an “iPhone-like platform” for health information technology (HIT), a more open and flexible approach than the architecture currently being contemplated, and one that holds greater promise for creating a consumer-oriented “Health Internet.” Obama Administration officials pledged at the meeting to have a pilot effort launched that could have real-time patient data accessible online this year.
The Children’s Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP) has been instrumental in connecting the public with health care issues through technology. CHIP created HealthMap, a website, blog and an iPhone app that tracks disease outbreaks in real-time. We featured their weekly H1N1 tracking updates over the last several months here on Thrive.