I was in London for the last month working on an Ebola Crisis Response project. It’s a collaboration between MSF, Google, and a bunch of volunteers from the community.

In a nutshell, Ebola’s highly contagious, and so nothing that’s been anywhere near a patient can leave a special designated ‘high risk’ zone without being dunked in a chlorine solution for ten minutes. As a result, the record keeping system MSF’s doctors were using was to take readings onto a clipboard whilst wearing full hazmat, and then to yell them over the fence to someone else who would copy them down onto another sheet of paper. Doctors are only supposed to be in the high-risk zone for at most an hour at a time as well, so any extra time that we can buy them to see more patients whilst they’re in there is a clear win.

So we built a zero-config electronic system, comprised of sterilisable, battery-powered servers, Sony Xperia Z2 tablets wrapped in a completely waterproof, drop-proof easy-grip casing, and a tablet app with enormous buttons that syncs data wirelessly.

We found in our trials that this saved doctors about half of the time they would spend writing and communicating records, and that they collected more data using this system.

I worked on the Android record-taking app, and some additional experimental RFID-based patient identification and logistics technology.

Further reading