Infectious Disease

Toolkit helps identify and respond to monkeypox exposures among health workers

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The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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Massachusetts General Hospital developed a toolkit that can help identify and respond to potential monkeypox exposures among health care personnel, researchers reported in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

The toolkit uses an enhanced version of REDCap, a web-based software platform that supports survey and data collection.

Doctor on computers

Mass General developed a toolkit to help identify monkeypox exposures among health care personnel. Source: Adobe Stock.

“They say necessity is the mother of invention and that’s absolutely true in this case,” Erica S. Shenoy, MD, PhD, associate chief of the infection control unit at Mass General, told Healio.

Erica S. Shenoy

Shenoy noted that clinicians at the hospital identified the first US case of monkeypox in the current outbreak.

“We had to respond quickly to identify potentially exposed health care personnel, patients and visitors,” Shenoy said.

Shenoy and colleagues quickly developed and deployed an enhanced version of REDCap in the hospital.

“REDCap is our go-to application for quick survey and data collection projects,” Lynn A Simpson, MPH, senior manager of research applications at Mass General Brigham, told Healio. “We were able to repurpose many module configurations and code to quickly customize a solution for monkeypox exposures.”

As the project requirements and risk levels were being defined, the team was able to easily adjust, add options and expand the REDCap build, Simpson said. The enhancements included dashboards for tracking health care personnel and text message reminders for symptom monitoring.

Details on how to access the toolkit and contact the team that developed it can be found in the study’s supplementary materials.

According to Shenoy and colleagues, the tool allowed them to contact trace and investigate health care exposures within 24 hours of identifying the patient with suspected monkeypox. The full suite was functioning within 4 days of confirmation of the patient’s monkeypox diagnosis.

“This was possible due to the modularized nature of REDCap, the concise communications from the teams involved, including [occupational health services] and the infection control team on their system needs, and the experience of the development team in creating similar tools prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic to support operations and research efforts,” they wrote.

They integrated clinical follow-up of health care personnel into the program, leading to improved symptom monitoring and tracking. Shenoy said compliance with symptom monitoring increased when they implemented text message reminders.

According to the study, 25% of participants chose to receive notifications via text in addition to email. Those who enrolled in text messaging had an average daily compliance rate of 94.9%, whereas those receiving email-only reminders had a compliance rate of 88.4%.

“Exposure and contact tracing is very labor intensive. We hope that others can learn from our experience and consider using the tools to support their own needs,” Shenoy said. “We also continue to iterate on the design of the toolkit, and as we make improvements or modifications, plan to share those online, available to all.”

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