Over the past 24hrs one of WRMDs servers was experiencing critical server errors and caused WRMD to crash. First and foremost, this is embarrassing and we sincerely apologize for the disruption. Secondly, there has no loss of any patient data (just a loss of time).
The errors were are result of extremely high server activity caused by a spike in WRMD traffic and report generation. We have taken many steps over the past few hours to rectify the issues and feel confident they wont occur again; but if they do, we are closely monitoring the servers and will catch any issues before they become critical again.
It has been a year of unlearning. We have had to unlearn all of our normal patterns and come up with new ones to match the times we live in. In many ways unlearning is a very important skill and I think our community has it in abundance. While the pandemic had little to no effect for some, for others it had a devastating blow. Despite this global event the wildlife rehabilitation community showed it’s incredible resilience in the face of all of it. What a community of people we have! Organizations had to cut staff, intake more patients and limit or completely eliminate their essential volunteer programs; and yet they still kept going. You are all amazing and we are so honored to support your efforts in the best way we can.
First off, we need to send a huge grateful, heartfelt, giant blown kiss and thank you to everybody that donated during our end-of-year fundraiser. We recognized the fact that it was not exactly the best time to do it, but our resources were getting lower then we like to keep them. To date, we were able to raise around $12,000!!! Bless you all, so much!!! This money will help us upgrade many of the tools we use to keep WRMD working smoothly and efficiently. WRMD just keeps on growing and so we have to continue to grow our database as well. For those that became sustaining donors with yearly, quarterly or monthly contributions – we are eternally grateful for your support. With this support from all of our donors we are able to continue to Keep WRMD Free to All. We consider this project a group effort and without the support of those that can contribute we all help those that can’t.
If you would like to become a recurring donor please visit https://www.wrmd.org/donate. Our goal is to have a sustainable recurring donor base of $1,000 per month.
A Gift From Our Friends at Birds of the World – Cornell Lab of Ornithology
We are always looking for better opportunities and partnerships for WRMD, as are some of our most avid supporters. Well one of these amazing supporters has worked out a deal with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Birds of the World to provide all WRMD users free access to their database. If you haven’t used this before, prepare to be amazed! Almost anything that you could possible want to know about any bird in the world is all in one place. When do they migrate, where do they migrate too, when do they molt, what do they sound like? You name it, it is all there. We plan to push up this new update this weekend March 27, 2021. After that there will be a small change to the Dashboard page, where this amazing resource will be located. We are very excited about this resource and it is our hope for you to get loads of information out of it and enjoyment it! Stay tuned for an update to the WRMD dashboard for a link to Birds of the World.
Slowing Down on New Feature Request
We also are in the process of slowing down on new feature requests. We have so many on our plate that we need to get done, we just can’t really accept new ideas at this time. This year we hope to role out a new Daily Tasks feature we have been working on for some time now, that will encompass all of the rechecks prescriptions and daily husbandry needs of the patients. This will help you organize all of your daily tasks in a much more efficient manner. We also have a long list of little upgrades and features that need to be adjusted and finished. So, for now feel free to send us new ideas, but there is a good chance we will not be able to get to them this year.
The Future of Wildlife Rehabilitation Data
When Devin and I (Rachel) started this project we did not know where it would take us, but we had a vision of where it could go. Our #1 priority has always been our users and the integrity of their data. This year we will surpass 2 million patients from dozens of countries dating back to 1979. No where in the world is there a data set like this one, so what do we do with this knowledge, how can we benefit wildlife rehabilitators and wildlife as a whole, and what does this look like while maintaining the security and integrity of all of our users? We are starting to have to face this question as our users, researchers and journalist learn about us and are looking for information about wildlife. We have always used WRMD as a source of aggregate data… While not everybody uses WRMD, the bulk of patients that come into rehab probably use WRMD, so it is the largest most diverse dataset in the world for wildlife patients.
Within California, where we live, we have been working with UC Davis, California Fish and Wildlife and around 40 participating wildlife organizations to help us create a way to make aggregate data usable for not only researchers or agencies, but also wildlife rehabilitators. While we will never, ever release personal identifiable information unless prior approval from the directors of an organization, the collective aggregate knowledge has potentially powerful implications. What if we were able to identify potential disease outbreaks in wildlife before it becomes an outbreak and your organization is automatically notified to watch out for these patients early on? Maybe better legislation can be passed because we have evidence of the damage rodenticide and lead have on wildlife populations. Or maybe the value of wildlife rehabilitation as a professional field is recognized and programs are created to help fund our work. There is a growing realization in the world’s agencies of the need for better monitoring of all animals – silver lining to Covid-19… Wildlife Rehabilitators happen to be first responders to any wildlife health event and they have the most realtime in-the-field information; therefore rehabilitators are valuable and essential members in the larger conversation of the One Health discussion.
Our hope is that we can use this aggregate data to help wildlife rehabilitators, support wildlife and promote the importance of our field. We want to do this while maintaining the trust of our users and integrity of the data. We know that not all of our users understand this crazy, online, database, techy world and we promise that we will never do anything with the data without your knowledge. The last thing we want is to break your trust in us. We are working though this learning process very slowly and deliberately to make sure it is done right. So, stay tuned for any further developments if you are interested.
On Saturday March 27 at 12:15 am PST we will be performing maintenance on the servers that Wildlife Rehabilitation MD (WRMD) is hosted on. This maintenance is being performed to update the code base and database architecture and will cause a brief downtime. Users should avoid using Wildlife Rehabilitation MD(WRMD) between Saturday March 27 at 12:15 am and 1:00 am PST or you may experience unexpected behavior from the site.
As always, if you have any questions, please contact our support team. [email protected]
We’re writing today to ask for your support to help keep WRMD awesome. WRMD was developed to help wildlife rehabilitators save lives, but it does a lot more than that, and it just keeps getting better.
We would like to ask you to take a few minutes to bask in the awesomeness of WRMD and think about how much it has helped you, your organization, and the wildlife in your care. We’re also asking that you make a donation if you can, so we can keep up our important work. Ok, prepare to bask.
Since WRMD officially launched in 2012, 793 organizations in 48 US states and 22 countries have signed up and use the database, and over 1.8 MILLION patients have been admitted.
In addition to those tremendous accomplishments, we have developed a version of WRMD for the Oiled Wildlife Care Network in California (called O-WRMD) for use during oil spills to enable better care of large numbers of patients. Another project WRMD is very proud of is the Wildlife Morbidity and Mortality Event Alert System that is currently being used as a wildlife surveillance tool in California in conjunction with the One Health Institute at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of California Fish and Wildlife.
Over the last few years the WRMD team has also been busy adding new features including a Hotline extension that allows you to log your communications with the public as well as track the progress of an incident’s continued communications. Not only can you search callers to see if they are repeat offenders but you can also quickly identify calls that may be about the same incident.
Here are just a few of the ways that WRMD is changing the way wildlife rehabilitators work.
WRMD Helps the Patients In Your Care
Review patient records to see what treatments were effective
Provides access to the database from anywhere
Enables collaboration and communication with caretakers
Scheduled rechecks helps ensure patients don’t fall through the cracks
WRMD Helps You Save Time and Resources
Saves valuable time and resources by no longer needing to chase around paper records
Provides effective and efficient ways to organize rechecks and medications
Year-end reports can be generated with the click of a button
WRMD Elevates the Profession of Wildlife Rehabilitation
Rich and insightful analytics can be used to learn about who, where and why patients are admitted
The new automatic Circumstances of Admission tagging provides a powerful vision of why patients are admitted, so you can better target your outreach
The Expenses extension records daily expenses for each of your patients and helps calculate the cost of care for each patient or each type of expenditure (like medications)
In addition to all of that awesomeness, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Did you know that most of the WRMD work has been done by just two incredible people?
If you’ve ever met WRMD co-founders Devin and Rachel, you probably already know that they work tirelessly on WRMD, making updates and improvements based on what users are asking for, several times a year for free. They keep track of every suggestion and develop new features based on what people are asking for. They even do all of the customer support themselves.
One of the most remarkable things about WRMD is that it’s FREE. Not only is it free for anyone, but the WRMD site doesn’t sell ad space to pay for this service and they don’t do anything weird like sell your information or data. This means that they depend on their users to keep WRMD going and constantly improving.
Think about how much you would pay if you had to build your own WRMD. What do you think would be fair and affordable? Please consider making a monthly donation to WRMD in that amount or consider adding it together for a yearly donation. It will be you and the patients in your care that will benefit!
Thanks so much, – The Wild Neighbors Database Project Board of Directors
For several years, Devin and Rachel have been working with OWCN to modify WRMD for use with oil spills, and this year, the Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Medical Database (OWRMD) made its big debut. So far, OWRMD has been used for two single-animal spills, and the recent Cuyama River Incident. The very first spill patient input was a Bell’s Sparrow. Cuyama was the first “big” test of the system…
It’s been an honor and a pleasure to work with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) over the past several years. OWRMD has developed into an amazing program that advances the care and documentation of California’s oiled wildlife.
How do you tag patients with what’s clinically abnormal?
What if you want to use tags that are not available?
Diagnostic Classification Terminology
Very soon we will be adding two new classification tagging fields: Clinical Classifications and Categorization Of Clinical Signs. The fields will help you tag your patients with the abnormal physical exam findings by body system and what caused the abnormal physical exam findings.
So there will be 3 classification categories:
Circumstances of Admission (ex: Cat interaction, Vehicle collision, …) — Why did the rescuer bring me this animal?
Clinical Classifications (ex: Physical injury, Neurologic disease, …) — What are the physical exam findings by body system?
Categorization Of Clinical Signs (ex: Trauma, External parasites, …) — What caused the abnormal physical exam findings (Clinical Classifications)?
The Clinical Classifications and Categorization Of Clinical Signs fields can be found with the Diagnosis field.
Reminder: If you want to use the Classification Tagging fields, go to Settings and choose Classification Tagging under the WRMD settings box. From the Classification Tagging settings page you can activate these new fields.
As of the date of this blog post, the Clinical Classifications and Categorization Of Clinical Signs fields DO NOT have an automatic tagging feature like the Circumstances Of Admission field does. In the future we will add that feature.
Additionally, if you want to see a list of all the terms for each category and their hierarchical organization, you can view that on the Classification Tagging settings page. We are working on a list of each terms definition that will be made available from the Classification Tagging settings page as well.
The terms in each category are meant to encompass, at a baseline level, the most common situations encountered in wildlife rehabilitation. For example, the Clinical Classifications category only classifies to the body systems, not to each individual organ or body part. You may use the terms in the classification tagging fields as-is or you may now also add custom terms for specific classifications that your hospital encounters. Your custom terms must be assigned to an existing root or leaf node of the terminology hierarchy. For example, you could use the Circumstances of Admission term “Cat interaction” or add the custom term “Feral cat” under Cat interaction in order to track that detail.
We hope you enjoy the new fields and are having a safe year!
With the release of the new Circumstances of Admission field we are very excited to also release a completely updated Analytics section. The older analytics section was nice but frankly kind-of rigid. It didn’t allow users to modify or tweak the graphs in order to see the information they wanted. In the updated Analytics section, all that changes. Our motivation for a new Analytics section was to answer the question:
“Can the analytics be flexible enough to allow users to discover answers to their own questions?”
ps: we think the answer is yes
The Five Ws
The Analytics section has been organized around the Five Ws (Who, What, Where, When and Why). Additionally, all the filters that you can apply are designed to adjust the Five Ws so that you can narrow down the data into only what you want.
The Patients sections is all about who your patients are. Such as, what are your most prevalent patients by common name, how many patients were in your care, how many species have been admitted and a whole lot more. There are pages summarizing your patients by many different taxa categories such as, common name, taxonomic class, biological group and endemic status. There are also pages summarizing your patients by many demographic and health indicators such as age, sex, attitude, body condition, dehydration and mucus membranes. The details of each category can be viewed to see their changes in over time. There is also a taxonomy tree map to visualize your patients grouped by their taxonomic ranks.
The Origin section is all about where your patients are found at. You can see the most prevalent cities and states you receive patients from and there is now a map page that plots where your patients are found at. The map will cluster patients together within a close geographic area to help you visualize groups.
Circumstances of Admission (Why)
Perhaps the most exciting section is Circumstances of Admission; ie why are your patients brought to your hospital. There is an overview of your patients most frequent circumstances of admission and all your circumstances of admission grouped by their the root circumstance. You can also see the totals of each circumstance of admission as well as the percent of each circumstance of admission compared to each other. And of course, circumstances of admission over time to illustrate their fluctuations seasonally. And, after popular request, there is now a survival rate for each circumstance of admission including their first 24 hours of care compared to after the first 24 hours.
The disposition section is about what happened to your patients at the end of their care. There’s an overview page with the totals of each disposition as well as graphs illustrating when each disposition occurred. There are also specific graphs for released and transferred patients, include the type of release (or transfer) and the release (or transfer) rate of your survived patients. Of course you can see the survival rate of your patients and the percentage of each disposition. There is also a map that plots where your patients are released (or transferred) at.
We’ve also greatly expanded your ability to modify the date range to render the analytics within. Not only can you change the date range but you can also compare to previous date ranges and group your data by different time frequencies; ie Day, Week, Month, Quarter, Year. (Grouping dates by bigger time frequencies is perfect when looking at data over large time periods)
Segment the Data
By default the graphs show data for all your patients, but what if you want to see analytics for a unique segment of your patients? For example, what if you only want to see data for your birds, or raptors, or perhaps all patients from a particular city, or even only patients that were poisoned? No problem!
Just click on the box labeled All Patients and choose which segment of your patients you wan to see.
Want to compare multiple segments of patients? Again no problem. You can choose up to three segments to create your graphs with.
In all honesty it is difficult to describe all the features and functionality of the new Analytics section, simply because of how much you can do with it. Even with this amazing release we are already planning improvements. Soon, we hope to allow you to save favorite graphs into one convenient place. We also want to create the ability to have even more specific segmentation; for example, render the charts for only “songbirds that also had an interaction with a cat”
We are very interested in any charts that you may generate at your own hospital. If there are any useful charts that you think we are missing PLEASE TELL US and share your charts with us ([email protected])! Additionally if you are not able to “discover answers to your own questions” PLEASE TELL US. There may be some tweaking that we need to do.
A Word of Caution
Looking at your analytics can be extremely fun and interesting, however I would like to express a word of caution. It is very easy to read to far into what the analytics are showing you. In other words, don’t let the analytics let you jump to conclusions. Let the analytics confirm, deny or improve your questions. If you see anomalies in the analytics that might indicate something important, or maybe just the result of bad data that needs correcting.
When we first conceptualized WRMD we set some very basic rules and milestones that we wanted to stick to. The first was that WRMD must be as simple as possible so that any wildlife rehabilitator could use it no matter their background or resources. Every time we make a change or add a new feature we still ask our selves “will this benefit our community of users or slow them down? ie: is this the WRMD way.”
Very soon we will be introducing a new feature in WRMD that officially takes WRMD into our second goal; benefitting from all the incredible data you collect on your patients!
Our Second Goal: Benefitting From The Data
In WRMD, you can collect information about who your patients are, where your patients come from, what condition they were in when admitted and what their final outcome was. However, although there are ways to record why a patient was found and admitted, it has always been a little bit difficult to do that. Definitely not in the “WRMD way.” In a forthcoming update, that will change. We are introducing a new field called Circumstances Of Admission that will allow you to tag your patients using predefined terms for any and all reasons the animal was brought in.
The new Circumstances Of Admission field can be found underneath the Reasons for Admission field with all the other Intake related data. Additionally, with each term you choose you can indicate if the circumstance is suspected or confirmed.
But That’s Not All!
You may be excited by this new field but also concerned that you now need to record in multiple places why your patients are admitted. Additionally you may be concerned that you need to go back and update all your past patients. If that’s how you feel then we agree with you.
In keeping with the “will this benefit our community of users or slow them down?” spirit, we wanted to make this new field as powerful as possible but also as simple as possible. With that being said, over the past year we have been developing and training a machine learning application to interpret what is written on your patient records in order to automatically tag your Circumstances Of Admission for you, so you don’t have to.
You and your users can still describe the reason for admission in regular human language. After you have admitted your patient, the Circumstances Of Admission classifier application will use the patients Common Name, Reasons For Admission, Notes About Rescue and Care By Rescuer fields to predict which Circumstances Of Admission tags best fit. You may still manually add or remove terms if needed.
Because of the automatic tagging, the Circumstances Of Admission field will be hidden by default. This way everything will appear the same and you won’t need train your volunteers or staff on the changes.
If you want to manually use the Circumstances Of Admission field, there is a setting under General WRMD Settings to show the Circumstance of Admission field.
As part of training and validating the Circumstances Of Admission classifier application, we have already tagged the majority of all patients admitted in WRMD over the past year and plan to retroactively tag past patients so that you don’t have to. The Circumstances Of Admission classifier application is not only a huge timesaver for you in realtime, it also has the amazing benefit of going back in time and automatically tagging your older patients. Additionally any imported patients can be automatically tagged in a matter of seconds.
It Gets Better!
With the introduction of the Circumstances Of Admission field we are also releasing a major update to the entire Analytics section of WRMD. One blog post is not enough to describe how powerful the new Analytics section is, but to give you an idea of our motivation, we want to answer the question: “Can the analytics be flexible enough to allow the user to discover answers to their own questions?”
A complete list of all the Circumstances Of Admissionterms and their definitions will be made available.
The Circumstances Of Admission classifier application is still learning and it may occasionally make incorrect predictions. Please do your part and correct any mistakes for us and help teach the classifier.
We know that the data that you collect is amazing and powerful but we are not in the business of taking, selling or using that data without your permission and understanding.
Hello friends! We are very excited and honored to have been featured in an article in Wild Hope Magazine.
If you are not familiar with this fantastic magazine then definitely check it out! They feature inspiring stories from around the world about preserving Earth’s biodiversity co-created by naturalists, conservationists, wildlife rehabilitators, veterinarians, biologists, ecologists, nature writers, photographers, and artists.
Our article: “Helping Hands, Wildlife Rehabilitators Around the World are Using Information Technology to Save the Lives of Our Wild Neighbors” can be read online in its entirety. It shares how important WRMD is to the wildlife rehabilitation community and how valuable the wildlife rehabilitation community is to advancing One Health.
December and January are two of the busiest months for WRMD. Reporting takes its toll on everybody. We work really hard to make sure that everybody’s reports are functioning correctly and that giant reports are not crashing our servers, which has happened a few times. Every year or two we have to upgrade our servers to handle all of the activity that happens this time of year, and we will be upgrading again soon. Thank you for your patience.
WRMD will be attending the NWRA Symposium this year in South Padre Island, Texas – Feb 25-29. If you are also attending we would love to meet you! Bring any and all questions, concerns, comments and feedback to us, or just come by and say hi. We will also be presenting on Thursday morning from 8:30-9:30AM and hope to see you there!
We are especially looking for feedback for our proposed new Husbandry extension. If you have been waiting patiently for this extension please come and chat with us. We are looking for suggestions and advice on recording husbandry information.
Devin, our developer, has been working extra hard to improve the Analytics section of WRMD. We want our users to be able to view their data in whatever way they need. All I can say is that what he is creating is absolutely beautiful! Seriously, the graphs are like artwork and the information they provide is invaluable. Devin is doing everything he can to get it done so he can unveil it during our presentation at the NWRA symposium (fingers crossed). Things to look forward to!
M-Opinion & the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is under attack and birds need you to speak for them. The language within this 100+ year old treaty has been scrutinized and recently a new proposed regulation change is underway. The M-Opinion proposes to redefine the meaning of the “incidental take”. The change effectively allows anybody who “accidentally” destroys, kills, or harms any MBTA protected bird, nest or egg to do so with no penalty. An example of this would be an oil spill where birds are not intentionally harmed. Currently, oil spillers have to pay a price for this. The M-Opinion would make it so they could get off scot-free. The same would be true of a tree-trimming company did not intend to wipe out an entire colony of herons and their nests. They may now experience no repercussions. On a smaller level, we may no longer be able to tell the public that removing a nest that has baby birds in it is illegal. We all know how devastating this could be to all MBTA protected birds. USFW has finally opened this up for public comment and we need to comment this until they have no more space on their server to hold all the comments. Spread this far and wide. We only have until March 19, 2020. Let’s do everything we can to stop this change.https://www.regulations.gov/document
A Great Question From a User
This is from a new user and it inspired me to write this blog:
“I have just one more question as well. I am using the program for our intakes only. We are a larger facility and still growing and the rehabilitation staff have a paperwork system that works really well for them as far as exams, feedings, vet visits etc. Does utilizing your system just for what we need hurt us in anyway? I was not sure if I just used it for intakes and out comes and used our paper system for the rehab side of things if that would be an issue in anyway.”
Here is our response:
We designed WRMD so that it could be used any way you want and need. Most wildlife rehabilitation organizations that have existed for 10 years or more started with paper records, which is completely fine. However, one of the big reasons we developed WRMD was to create a tool that can save institutional knowledge in a useful, easy-to-search format. When we ask, “What medication did we give that patient 5 years ago that worked, because we now have a similar situation?”, we can easily and quickly find the answer in WRMD. With paper you really can’t do that. So much information is lost on paperwork. On the flip side I do think that it can work great for many tasks such as husbandry charts or prescription forms that can be written on and checked off. WRMD provides many paper forms within our “Paper Form” extension that, when used, translate nicely into the digital format of WRMD.
We have found that the normal progression of our WRMD users is to start small. Many rehabilitators just add in their intakes and dispositions to get the reports and basic stats they need. Once they get used to using WRMD and can navigate more easily, they slowly start to incorporate its’ other features. Features like the Prescriptions extension can automatically calculate the dose your patient from the last recorded weight once you add information into your Prescription Formulary. In order to do that you need to use Locations and record in weights. If you use the Rechecks feature, a daily calendar is automatically generated for you on a daily basis, but you have to add in these rechecks. All these little features help save you time that could be used on animal care instead of paperwork and calendars.. How you use WRMD is up to you. We support you, whatever way you decide to use WRMD. Our first priority is to make things easy for our users, and everything else comes later.