Wednesday, May 6, 2009

CDC's Systems in Place

Preparing people for emerging health threats is one of CDC’s goals. The agency has several programs to address national, state, and local efforts in dealing with public health disasters and to prepare people for emerging and ongoing health threats.

CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response (COTPER) helps to prepare the nation for public health emergencies that include natural, biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear incidents. Among other activities, COTPER staffs an Emergency Operations Center 24/7 to monitor worldwide health threats and to coordinate emergency response activities.

COPTER released their inaugural report in January 2009 describing CDC’s activities in public health emergency preparedness. The report, “Public Health Preparedness: Strengthening CDC’s Emergency Response” is available at .

Some of the programs and systems across CDC working to improve emergency preparedness and response are:

  • National Center for Health Marketing—Strengthens health communication networks across federal, state, and local levels with programs such as Epi-X, and the Emergency Communication System that manages the CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response web site
  • National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases—Conducts vaccine research to protect people from anthrax and other diseases
  • National Center for Public Health Informatics—Identifies public health informatics solutions for outbreak investigation, event detection, and monitoring. Supports the BioSense System with 800 registered users connecting with more than 600 hospitals. BioSense receives data from DOD and VA hospitals, laboratories, and other healthcare facilities
  • National Center for the Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases—manages the Laboratory Response Network (LRN). The LRN maintains an integrated network of state and local public health, federal, military, and international laboratories to respond to bioterrorism, chemical terrorism, and other public health emergencies
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health—provides technical expertise, and facilitates on-site support during emergencies, advances research and collaborates on response efforts
  • National Electronic Disease Surveillance System—designed to detect outbreaks rapidly and electronically and then transfer the information from clinical information systems to public health departments
  • Early Aberration Reporting System—city, county, and state public health officials in the U.S. use the system to obtain syndromic data from emergency departments, 911 calls, physician offices, schools, businesses, and from pharmacies for information on over-the-counter drug sales
  • Early Warning Infectious Disease Surveillance Program—is a collaboration of state, federal, and international partners to provide rapid and effective laboratory confirmation for urgent infectious disease case reports in the border regions of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico
  • Enhanced Surveillance Project—works with state and local health departments and information system contractors to develop real-time special event syndromic surveillance and analytical methods. During events, ESP monitors sentinel hospital emergency department visit data and reports the information to state and local health departments for confirmations and appropriate follow-up
  • National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System—is a state-based public health surveillance system for conditions designated by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists as nationally notifiable. Weekly provisional NNDSS data is shared with CDC programs

To address the issue for exchanging information electronically, CDC’s Public Health Information Network (PHIN) promotes the use of standards by defining functional and technical requirements, supports the exchange of health information between all levels of public health and healthcare, monitors the capability of state and local health departments to exchange information, and provides technical assistance to state and local health departments.

CDC is also very interested in reaching the public with immediate information. For example is available on Twitter and provides updates on new emergencies. In addition, CDC provides information via email updates, pod casts, emergency text messages, and by RSS feeds.

The newest way to receive information is from the CDC’s Data and Statistics Widget. Widgets are online applications built by one web site that can be displayed onto another web site. Therefore, the widget application is able to display featured content directly to your web page. Information can be embedded in personalized home pages, blogs, on other sites and also via mobile devices.