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Team creating technology to track flu outbreaks

A six-person team led by a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is among nine semifinalists in a competition to create software for analyzing, managing and treating outbreaks of influenza.

Dr. Sonya Hsiu-Yueh Hsu, of the UL Lafayette Informatics Program, is leading five UL Lafayette staff members and one from LSU in the “Surescripts Technology Challenge: Tracking Influenza in Real Time.”

The competition, which involves three separate phases, is intended to create technology capable of geographically tracking flu outbreaks based on information provided by Surescripts, an e-prescription network.

“We are working to integrate a flu monitoring system with prescriptions-based data that will provide information that may be useful to medical professionals, public health administrators, patients, prescription drug manufacturers and elementary, middle and high schools,” Hsu said.

Semifinalists were chosen by Surescripts judges based on the potential effectiveness of proposed technology and qualifications of members of teams that submitted entries and initial proposals. The entries and proposals for the Surescripts Technology Challenge were submitted last month.

The Challenge sought individual female applicants and female team leaders. Males could participate as members of teams led by women. “. . .Our goal is to provide a platform and help strengthen efforts underway to encourage women to lead in the areas of technology, health and science,” the Challenge terms and conditions state.

Lucas Tramontozzi, chief technology officer of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, said it is “very proud of our strategic technology partner, UL Lafayette. Big data analytics in health care, and specifically epidemiology, can help us better understand how the state can be prepared for disease outbreaks such as the flu.”

Based on projects that must be submitted by Oct. 7, three teams will be picked as finalists.

The finalists will vie for a first-place prize of $25,000 during a one-day competition on Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C.

In addition to Dr. Hsiu-Yueh Hsu, team members include: Dr. Angela Chiu, LSU School of Health in New Orleans; Dr. Janis Guilbeau, UL Lafayette, College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions; Dr. Raju Gottumukkala, UL Lafayette, National Incident Management Systems and Advanced Technologies Institute, Center for Business and Information Technologies, and Center for Visual and Decision Informatics; and Ryan Benton, UL Lafayette, Center for Advanced Computer Studies.

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