As cases of the killer disease reached their peak in 2014, Médecins Sans Frontières reached out to the tech community, appealing for a way to help medical staff record patients’ notes quickly and accurately while in high-risk zones.
“Medics working in the west African heat could spend only an hour at a time inside the personal protective suits, and usually spent the final 10 minutes of their shift shouting basic patient notes over a fence to a colleague on the other side, as even a piece of paper leaving the high-risk zone posed an infection risk,” an MSF spokesman said.
“This wasted precious time that medics wanted to spend with patients, while dictating notes across a fence at the end of an exhausting shift whilst wearing a mask was a recipe for error. At the same time, the basic notes did not always give doctors enough information to provide individualised care, making it more complicated to analyse a patient’s condition over time.”
In response to MSF’s call for help, a group of tech volunteers formed, and were later joined by a team from Google. They developed a waterproof tablet that can be dropped into chlorine, sterilised and safely taken out of the high-risk zone. It also charges quickly when placed on a special table.
The team also developed a local network server which is the size of a postage stamp, runs on minimal energy and uses batteries that can be quickly recharged with a generator.
The tablets were successfully trialled in MSF’s ebola management centres in Sierra Leone and are now in use.
Read more of today’s news here