In 2002, GermWatch was introduced to monitor illnesses during the Olympics. In partnership with the Utah Department of Health, the University of Utah Health Care system, and other organizations and clinicians, GermWatch has continuously improved to help physicians and consumers track and treat illnesses. Recent funding from the Intermountain Innovation Foundry provided the opportunity to invest in a robust infrastructure to substantially improve the service and take it to the next level.

Some key improvements to GermWatch’s quality, content, and data include:

  • Additional data sources: In addition to testing data, the system now collects and analyzes data from iCentra, Intermountain’s Electronic Data Warehouse (EDW), TeleHealth, emergency department notes, primary care notes, and facility visit data.
  • Expanded illness monitoring: In addition to respiratory illness, the service now offers tracking for gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • New trend analysis and predictability tools: Using syndrome analysis, GermWatch provides public health surveillance with the ability to identify trends and predict illnesses such as flu, EV-D68 virus, RSV, pandemics, and bioterrorist events.
  • Targeted mapping: Heat maps now target 61 areas by ZIP code to predict local outbreaks and see how illnesses are spreading.
  • Growing reach: The service generates 40 reports and more than 671 emails to clinicians, infection control specialists, administrators, and public health professionals.

Clinicians and consumers benefit from GermWatch

Over the past 15 years, the number of clinicians subscribing to GermWatch’s email updates has grown from 20 to more than 430. Clinicians enjoy access to trending and predictability tools, expanded breadth and depth of information in an easier format, additional illness information, more educational offerings, dashboards, business intelligence, and mobile access.

Consumers also benefit from improved activity indicators and maps, mobile access, and important education on common illnesses to help them know actions to prevent illness and when to seek care.