Controlling the Spread of Infections

CDC reports that nearly one million Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) occur annually and many of the 100,000 associated deaths occur in patients with compromised immune systems. While there are signs of a downward trend in the infection rate as hospitals adopt new protocols, these infections continue to represent a significant and preventable burden.

Several research projects involving the use of technology are underway to help diminish the occurrence of HAIs and Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS).

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL) in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine clinicians have developed a platform to monitor the transmission of infections in medical settings. The goal is to develop a model of transmission of bacteria in a healthcare setting taking into account profiles of people and surfaces along with their interactions with one another.

The research team placed Bluetooth low energy beacons on clinic surfaces and on people taking part in the study. An APL-developed smartphone app captured the interaction of patients and healthcare workers with surrounding beacons and moved that data to where the data was used to create a temporal interaction network consisting of people and clinic surfaces.

The researchers collected swabs from surfaces throughout the clinic and from hands and nasal passages. These swabs underwent sequencing of the participant’s genomic content to determine the relative abundance of bacteria present, along with information obtained on personal hygiene practices and health history. Then the data types were combined to create a model of potential transmission events.

Another project undertaken at OpGen Inc. under contract to CDC for $860,000, was to develop Clinical Support Mobile-Based tools to effectively address AMS and infection control. The work involved developing smartphone-based clinical decision support solutions for AMS and studying infection control especially in low and middle income countries.

OpGen worked with ILUM Health Solutions LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck’s Healthcare Services and Solutions, and Universidad El Bosque (UEB) of Bogota Colombia .

The UEB research team guided the customization of the AMS software for low and middle income countries. The company also worked with OpGen and ILUM to deploy the software at three medical sites in Columbia to assess the effectiveness of the research. The companies are in discussion with ILUM to establish a distribution relationship for Colombia and the region.

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