Although relatively few cases have been reported outside West Africa, Ebola is both a top headline and a public health concern in the Western world, with eight confirmed cases in the United States. Even in the UK, Ebola was a topic of discussion at a recent TechCrunch Disrupt Conference panel on digital health.

“I think the question is no longer if, but it’s when,” Dominic King, a surgeon at Imperial College and a member of the HELIX Centre healthcare design group, said at the panel. “We are definitely going to have people with Ebola coming in to a world city like London. And when this city was a market for fish rather than ideas, we had dozens of hospitals that dealt with infectious diseases. Now our bread and butter is non-communicative diseases like diabetes. We’re very good at managing chronic conditions. But how’s our health system going to deal with a potential epidemic? Well maybe not an epidemic, but in the next couple of months half of us are going to develop colds and fevers as part of normal seasonal flus. How are we going to deal with that? Everyone’s going to wonder ‘Is this Ebola?’ and I think technology has a massive potential role to play.”

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