Ebola virus outbreak preparedness
The 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa highlighted the global reach of emerging infectious diseases and shattered a sense of complacency in an increasingly interconnected world. Consequently, a subsequent outbreak of EVD in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in early May 2018 triggered a swift response. International agencies and workers benefited from increased experience with the disease, new investigational vaccines, including the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, and novel therapies, including ZMapp, favipiravir, and remdesivir (GS-5734).
However, are health-care providers and facilities outside of outbreak areas truly more prepared to handle high-risk pathogens today than they were in 2014? The answer, at least in the United States, seems to be “yes,” due to a regional concentration of funding and resources. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has identified treatment centers for Ebola and other special pathogens nationwide.1 The National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) trains health systems to implement disease management plans.2 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has prepared recommendations for public health planners.3
In nonreferral centers, providers should always obtain a travel history, remain cognizant of emerging diseases,4 and optimize supportive care. Early collaboration with public health authorities and appropriate infection control precautions are necessary for rapid confirmation of a suspected high-risk pathogen and for ensuring patient and staff safety. Most centers will not need to care for a patient with EVD for an extended period, but the ability to recognize, contain, and refer is essential for good outcomes.
Ryan Maves, MD, FCCP
Cristian Madar, MD
Steering Committee Members
1.. Accessed July 18, 2018.
2.. Accessed July 18, 2018.
3.. Accessed July 18, 2018.
Current impact of social media on health care
In an age of connectivity, social media websites pose many challenges. Not immune to this are the physicians and their health-care practices, particularly their online presence to their patients. Many of these sites publish user-submitted patient appreciation or complaints. These postings are generally viewable to the public and often not moderated or restricted in content. With value-based care at the front lines, these posts may be detrimental to the success of the practice. Public postings exist regardless of providers’ awareness or management of them.
There is limited training on social media presence, handling negative reviews, addressing patient-specific posts online, or mediating conflicts. This includes legal issues related to licensing, privacy, litigation, and fraud. Compliance to ethical requirements and protecting patient privacy online still remains crucial in the heavily regulated health-care industry. The burden of social media remains a widely unacknowledged impediment to growing physicians’ practice. While several organizations have published guidelines to help ensure success and to better inform physicians, these are not widely practiced or well known.
However, significant potential benefits to social media include marketing opportunities, education, and connection with patients. Social media has been key for support group networks amongst patients. Similar to professionals in other fields, it is recommended that providers separate their public and private social media accounts or use alternate names. For more information about social media and answers to many legal questions, attend the Practice Operations NetWork Featured Lecture at the CHEST Annual Meeting on Monday, October 8, at 1:30 PM.
Megan Sisk, DO
Humayun Anjum, MD
Steering Committee Member