Thanks to innovation from the College of Information Science & Technology, rural hospitals and laboratories throughout Nebraska and even Oklahoma can know the unknown — helping heal and save lives.
That’s achieved through an emergency response system called STATPack — the Secure Telecommunications Application Terminal Package — which IS&T faculty developed 15 years ago. STATPack connects health care professionals in rural areas to experts at the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory via an immediate and secure communication channel.
There are no other systems like STATPack available. This project has opened many doors. We have a network of people, organizations and technology in place that positions us to explore new services and opportunities.
- Ann Fruhling, principle investigator for STATPack
“There are no other systems like STATPack available,” says Ann Fruhling, principle investigator for STATPack. “This project has opened many doors. We have a network of people, organizations and technology in place that positions us to explore new services and opportunities."
Through STATPack, participating hospitals and diagnostic laboratories send digital images of suspicious or unknown organisms (e.g., ecoli) electronically to microbiologists at the Nebraska Public Health Lab (NPHL) on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus. The secure, web-based network saves time and effort and minimizes risk associated with couriers transporting live biological samples over the road to NPHL.
Once the images are received, microbiologists examine them and either rule out the organism as being a threat, or decide if steps need to be taken to treat a patient. All conversations are done between the microbiologists at NPHL and the practitioner at the rural hospital.
STATPack is on its fifth major release. Enhancements have included mobile application development, micrometer and adaptable technology for smaller rural microbiology laboratories.
“The state public health laboratories have received a significant return on their investment” Fruhling says. “We know the technology is always changing. We take this into account during strategic planning by considering, ‘How can we leverage the next generation technology?’”
More than 40 hospitals in Nebraska and Oklahoma utilize STATPack. It is especially critical when a consultation is necessary on holidays and weekends when laboratories may not be fully staffed.
Fruhling estimates that more than 60 UNO students have worked on or with STATPack over the years. It has provided valuable technical, problem-solving, user relations and communication experience to aspiring IT professionals, computer scientists and cybersecurity experts.
This article was published in the Winter 2018 edition of UNO Magazine.