Fighting Antibacterial Resistance 1 Zip Code at a Time: Bugs + Drugs App


Antimicrobial resistance is a global phenomenon, but what would happen if clinicians could begin the fight one zip code at a time? A newly launched tool from epocrates, a medical information company, is going to help do just that.

picture of epocrates' Bugs + Drugs app

epocrates' Bugs + Drugs app (photo courtesy of epocrates)

If medical providers knew for certain what pathogens were in their local community, they could be more proactive in giving the specific antibiotic for a patient's needs, instead of guessing based only on the clinician’s empirical knowledge. Using the correct antibacterial selections could determine how antibacterial resistance continues to grow and could help stave off the total antibiotic resistance the medical community could face all too soon.

A recently launched tool, Bugs + Drugs, from epocrates, a medical information company, is the first of kind in the industry and will allow clinicians to have information about information about bacteria types and antibacterial resistance patterns by ZIP code found in the ambulatory setting as close to real time as possible. This free feature found in the company’s app will assist clinicians in choosing appropriate empiric antibiotics for each patient at the point of care.

Anne Meneghetti, MD, executive director of medical information at epocrates, spoke with Infection Control Today® (ICT®) about how epocrates aggregates antimicrobial susceptibility data and makes it public for clinicians to use to make more knowledgeable decisions.

1. Please give ICT®’s listeners a brief overview of epocrates.

epocrates is a mobile medical reference app that delivers clinical decision support at the point of care to more than one million physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care professionals. Our resource is centered around unparalleled drug prescribing and safety information and provides fast answers and trusted decision support in seconds. Our Medical Information team of physicians and pharmacists are committed to providing the most accurate, unbiased, and clinically relevant information to clinicians who rely on epocrates. We’ve been in the market since 1999, and we’re rated as the #1 medical reference app for more than a decade.

2. epocrates’ latest press release mentions that one key tenet of antimicrobial stewardship involves factoring local resistance and susceptibility patterns into antibiotic prescribing decisions. And epocrates has created a new feature to address this issue. Please describe this new feature and why it is important.

We recently launched Bugs + Drugs within the epocrates mobile app. It’s a mobile antimicrobial susceptibility tool that puts geolocalized bacterial resistance data into the hands of clinicians so they can make optimal point-of-care prescribing decisions amid rising rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This is an especially important tool for health care professionals in the outpatient and ambulatory settings where antimicrobial susceptibility data haven’t historically been available in the same way they are for hospital systems. Without Bugs + Drugs, clinicians must make educated guesses about which bacteria are prevalent in their patient’s community and the susceptibility of those bacteria to various antibiotics. Bugs + Drugs offers insight to inform decisions about effective antibiotic treatment based on local resistance patterns.

When a clinician opens the tool, they will find a list of bacteria found in urine, skin, and other sample types, aggregated by ZIP code. Depending upon the location selected, the radius dynamically expands to deliver meaningful results for that area. Clinicians can then tap on a bacteria name to reveal susceptibility data for relevant antibiotics and then tap on a drug name to get epocrates drug references for full prescribing details. With Bugs + Drugs, clinicians can make more informed prescribing decisions by targeting empiric antibiotic therapy to the bacterial susceptibilities relevant to a patient’s community.

3. What future plans do you have for this feature?

We plan to add more bacteria sample types, fungi, and antifungal susceptibilities, and explore trends in resistance. We’ll also continue enhancing the Bugs + Drugs interface based on user feedback to ensure it’s a seamless and easy-to-use tool for clinicians.

4. Do you have anything else to add?

Bugs + Drugs is the only patented solution of its kind and any health care professional treating outpatients with suspected infections may find this tool useful, especially as antimicrobial resistance continues to be a growing threat. Our tool fills a critical gap in care and strengthens a clinician’s ability to deliver geographically tailored care to each patient, while minimizing the impact on antibiotic resistance for the future.

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