The recent outbreak of the H1N1 Swine Flu demonstrates our global susceptibility to fast spreading pandemics. It seems we become aware of the presence of the virus once people start dying. Then, we react and overreact since we have little knowledge about the origins, spread or virulence of given strains.

What if we start getting a little control back? If we can start identifying symptoms, regions and treatment trends we can start anticipating the inevitable. Unfortunately, very little information is available to organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and health departments in order to create statistically valid projections. Often the information comes late from hospitals reporting critical conditions. By this time, the nightmare has started. With the current emphasis on Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) a new and very powerful tool emerges in the fight against pandemics. Because health records will no longer be stored in paper, we will be able to quickly gather, analyze and project pending situations. The technology already exists to analyze massive amounts of information and understand trends and conditions never seen before. The EMR is a great first step; it changes the medium from static paper records to dynamic profiles that can be accessed at the speed of light.

However, the current model for EMRs at hospitals and doctors’ offices is not appropriate for broad population analysis. This is because the information is all housed exclusively for the use by that specific hospital or doctor. There is no current method for analyzing all of the records in a community, city or country.

In the 21st Century, a new model for health records is required, one that will facilitate immediate, national and in-depth analysis of health conditions. Personal Wellness electronic RecordsTM (PWeRTM) do just that. The records are no longer maintained in paper or a personal computer at a doctor’s office where they are exposed to theft, security and privacy breaches and most importantly where nothing can be done with them.

The PWeR platform enables the most advanced means for the gathering, analysis and reporting of conditions and trends at a local or national level. The information is not stored at the hospital or doctor’s office; instead it is maintained by the most powerful and secure computers. These sophisticated bases of information provide an effective means to “mine” the data for the multiple conditions, symptoms and treatments with high accuracy and geographic location. This is vital as critical monitoring happens not only from hospital data but more importantly, earlier in the cycle by monitoring data from primary care physicians and specialists. Data from these sources can provide key trends pointing to an epidemic weeks or months before people start dying in hospitals. The same technology that helps Amazon or American Express know what you will buy next, where and how much you are willing to pay will provide unprecedented intelligence about health trends. The fundamental factor is that the data must all be stored or quickly available to the PWeR platform for immediate and continuous analysis.

In the near future, using the PWeR model, researchers and health departments could monitor and analyze health records continuously and in real time. This analysis will provide the ability to see and project the epidemic before it happens and prepare with notification, isolation, medication and prevention.

The ugly viruses of the future are about to meet innovation. This changes everything!