There is a widespread dogma that clinical observations made by veterinary practitioners and reported using web- and mobile-based technologies benefit disease surveillance by improving the timeliness of outbreak detection.
What is less clear is what may affect the willingness of sentinel practitioners to report cases of non-notifiable diseases and clinical symptoms; and whether practitioners in “resource-rich” countries have bought into the concept of mobile-based surveillance.
A team of researchers and veterinary service officials in Switzerland carried out telephone interviews to understand the motivating and constraining factors affecting voluntary reporting and the use of mobile devices within a sentinel network. Their work focused on Equinella, a voluntary electronic reporting and information system established for the early detection of infectious equine diseases in Switzerland.
My colleagues and I found that non-monetary incentives can be used to successfully attract practitioners to register to a sentinel network. Attracting participants is only half of the battle, active participation from members is the other. We identified insufficient understanding of the reporting system and of its relevance, as well as concerns over the electronic dissemination of health data as potential challenges to sustainable reporting.
Many Swiss practitioners are also not yet aware of the advantages of mobile-based surveillance and may require some time to become accustomed to novel reporting methods.
The interviewed sentinel practitioners consistently acknowledged the continued information feedback loops within Equinella as a useful feature of the system and the system developers will keep working on providing added value for the participants.
The full article is now available in the journal Epidemiology & Infection, or can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org