ISTM's Tech Corner

Hello, and welcome to ISTM's Tech Corner!

We live in a digital age, and both travel medicine providers and travellers are increasingly using digital platforms for information sharing and communication. Digital medicine is changing the way we deliver healthcare, and offers an unprecedented opportunity to improve the care of patients: better decisions can be made and knowledge gaps narrowed as providers and travellers take advantage of readily available information.

Who are we?

We are your hosts, Sarah Kohl, MD (United States of America) and Sarah McGuinness, MBBS (Australia) and we look forward to navigating the world of digital technology with you. In this new blog, hosted on the ISTM website, we will share digital advances that can help us improve our clinical practice as travel medicine providers, and help keep our travellers safe and healthy.

How can the ISTM community help?

Digital medicine is expanding at an exponential rate. Despite our keen interest, even we (your hosts) are unable to keep up with all the advances in digital medicine, so we welcome your suggestions, ideas and input. Guest reviewers are welcome so if you have a great resource to share or would like to write a review please click to email us:  Sarah Kohl & Sarah McGuinness.

The first 12 months:

In our inaugural year we will review mobile apps (mHealth) relevant to travel medicine. Mobile apps are software applications designed to run on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet computer. Each month we will review apps that the travel practitioner can use or recommend to the traveller. In time, we will branch out into diagnostics, databases, therapeutics and other useful tech advances. The future is here, and we need to embrace it.

Conflict of Interest

At this time, neither Sarah Kohl nor Sarah McGuinness have conflicts to declare for any applications or products reviewed on the ISTM Tech Corner blog.  If applicable, specific conflicts will be noted at the beginning of the blog post.


"Can I Eat This?" A Dose of Confidence for Travellers

Making safe food and drink choices while travelling can mean the difference between having a great time, or spending the majority of your trip in the bathroom. As travel medicine practitioners we can (and do) educate travellers on safe food and drink choices before they depart, but often what we tell them goes in one ear and out the other. And of course, we cannot be by our travellers’ sides when they are making food and drink decisions on the run.

But this is where ‘Can I Eat This?’ comes in handy. Created by the CDC, the app helps travellers decide whether or not a particular food or beverage is safe to eat or drink. 

How does it work?

The interface is pretty straightforward. Once you’ve selected the country you’re visiting and whether you’re eating or drinking, the app will ask you a few short questions about what it is, where you bought it, and how it is packaged or served. It will then tell you if the food or beverage is probably OK or probably not OK to eat or drink.

For example, let’s say you’re in Bangkok, Thailand and you’re wondering if you should buy a meal from a street vendor. “You probably shouldn’t eat it” says the app. “Street vendors in developing countries are not well regulated and the food may be contaminated. That skewer of mystery meat may look tempting, but we’d hate for you to spend the rest of your vacation in the bathroom.”

Why will travellers like this app?

This app is easy to use and informative. The cheeky commentary makes it fun for both kids and adults. Content can be accessed off-line, so travellers can check their food and drink choices on the go without needing an internet connection.

The bottom line Can I Eat This?

Created by the CDC, the app Can I Eat This? helps travellers decide whether or not a particular food or beverage is safe to eat or drink.
Cost: free
Category: food and drink
Devices: iOS, Android
Pros: Simple interface, informative, content available offline
Cons: Answers can be repetitive
Overall rating: