Friday, November 03, 2006

Successful Interventions by State Public Health Systems

In a new report, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials highlights some recent successful interventions taken by state health departments to prevent and prepare for serious health threats. Most of the efforts involve improved collaboration and/or information sharing. Some highlights of the report:

The Arizona Department of Health Services ... has created a working network of food professionals from all segments of the food industry to increase food security awareness.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services contracted with the Missouri School Boards Association to create a secure, web-based tool to assist schools in planning and training for emergency events. Beginning April 1, 2006, all schools in the state could upload critical information such as floor plans, students with special needs, staff information, and utility shut-off locations to aid the response to events such as infectious disease outbreaks and hazardous materials incidents.

In South Carolina, the Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology at the Department of Health and Environmental Control summarizes daily epidemiological reports for the state’s intelligence fusion center ... Health data such as summaries of calls to the state poison control center, reports on over-the-counter retail sales of certain medications, calls handled by the 24/7 consultant on-call, and chief-complaint information from hospitals are analyzed each day and summarized by the department prior to submission.

In New York City, the Emergency Data Exchange Network (EDEN) allows different agencies to share environmental health monitoring data. Using wireless Bluetooth technology, field staff are able to collect and automatically transmit environmental information including air and radiological monitoring data. The environmental handheld project is just one of the many data sources for EDEN.

The Ohio Department of Health used its public health communication system to rapidly establish a secure, Web-based reporting system for Clostridium difficile infection. Beginning January 1, 2006, more than 120 local health departments have weekly access to the system and the capacity to provide and update reports for the hospitals and long term care facilities within their own jurisdictions.

Tennessee ... merged tabletop and full-scale exercise activities of its public health, animal health, homeland security, and emergency management agencies under one umbrella. By doing so, the state has improved overall collaboration and gained a better understanding of how efforts are integrated during an emergency response.
The report also highlights some other examples, but I found these to be the most intriguing. Especially interesting to me are the ways that South Carolina and New York City have improved their situational awareness by using information-sharing technology.

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