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  • Michal  Gaziel Yablowitz, Prof. David Schwartz and  Michael Khalemsky

    Michal Gaziel Yablowitz, Prof. David Schwartz and Michael Khalemsky

    Researchers Initiate Life-Saving App for Allergy Sufferers

    Date: 2018-03-27 Hour: 12:49

    Millions of severe allergy sufferers are at high risk of developing anaphylactic shock, a serious allergic reaction that can cause death within minutes. A severe reaction can be treated with the EpiPen™, a pen-like autoinjector used to deliver the life-saving medication epinephrine.

    Unfortunately, however, many allergy patients don't carry their medication with them at all times.  In the case of sudden anaphylactic shock, these patients are completely dependent upon the arrival of emergency services and precious time is lost. 

    A novel app that can help save lives in this type of emergency has been initiated by Prof. David G. Schwartz and doctoral students Michael Khalemsky and Michal Gaziel Yablowitz, from the School of Business Administration at Bar-Ilan University.  Working together with Magen David Adom (MADA) and a team led by Dr. Eli Jaffe, the "EPIMADA" app was recently launched and already has hundreds of registered users.  Following the guidelines developed at Schwartz’s Social Intelligence Lab, MADA’s EPIMADA connects with allergy patients who may be close enough to arrive significantly faster than an ambulance. It is the first patient-centric social network of its kind to enable delivery of emergency medication.

    Using proximity-based algorithms much like GettTaxi, which connects customers via smartphone to the nearest available taxi, MADA uses the app to dispatch a registered allergy patient to urgently help another patient in immediate need of an EpiPen™.  In Israel there are approximately 20,000 people with epinephrine auto injector prescriptions and this number is on the rise.

    "The potential of leveraging patients carrying the same medication to respond in emergencies is enormous,” says Prof. Schwartz.  "With hundreds of allergy sufferers signed on and more to follow, we hope that this initiative helps save crucial minutes to first epinephrine use." 

    “Our preliminary research results show that allergy patients are highly motivated to give their personal EpiPen™ to patient-peers in immediate need, something generally uncommon among total strangers,” said doctoral student Michal Gaziel Yablowitz.  The fact that EPIMADA is a downloadable and carefully monitored mobile community opens the door to exciting research into the behavior and benefits of emergency response communities.

    The “EPIMADA” app is the first field test of the international Emergency Response Communities (ERC) initiative.  Studies of patient-based emergency response for anaphylaxis are underway at Charité Hospital – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and for opioid overdose reversal by sharing naloxone, at Drexel University, Philadelphia. Studies presenting the innovative ERC concept have been published in the prestigious scientific journals ACM Computing Surveys and Decision Support Systems.

    Allergy patients with epinephrine prescriptions can apply to join the community by contacting MADA at Tel: *6210 or abigailk@mda.org.il  

    More information on the ERC Initiative is available on the Social Intelligence Lab website.