The Burden of the Next Outbreak is on Public Health Professionals: What You Can Do to Be Prepared
This week, AKA’s public sector team is participating in the 2017 Preparedness Summit and is hearing first-hand what is keeping today’s public health agencies up at night. More than 1,750 attendees listened in as keynote speakers including Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Joe Lieberman, and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge shared insight on the challenges of today’s preparedness efforts, as well as the importance of working together to optimize limited resources.
The world is changing, and there are many factors complicating how public health services are delivered. These forces of change, along with a lack of sustained funding, are putting more pressure than ever on public health professionals to quickly prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.
Have We Learned Enough from Recent Outbreaks?
Public health professionals remember all too well the anthrax scare that swept our nation more than a decade ago, the West Africa Ebola breakouts, and the H1N1 pandemic. More recently, the world watched the Olympic stage as concerns of Zika radiated from Brazil into many other regions, including the United States.
Whether facing natural disaster or bioweapons, we need stronger disease detection, countermeasures, and consistent funding for continued preparedness and response to threats. Senator Lieberman suggested the United States is not prepared adequately enough to respond to biothreats. Funding has atrophied to embarrassingly low levels, and the threat of a bio attack remains very real. He went on to suggest that money spent on preparation will save money in the long run as we respond to catastrophic events.
Representing the State of Georgia and State’s Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Patrick O’Neil suggested that being prepared is not an endpoint, but a process. In the absence of adequate federal funding, we are only left with relationships and partnerships under the guidelines of the CDC and ASPRA. After that, the real work is done at the local level, under the dedication and direction of those in the public health field. Health departments and other local agencies need to tools to be able to work together efficiently and quickly in the event of an outbreak.
Health Departments and Local Agencies Must Be Prepared for Outbreaks
While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), PH Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) and the Presidential Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) develop rules and authorize funding to address these types of outbreaks, the real work happens at the local level – whether there is funding available or not.
Outbreaks start small and can grow rapidly, seemingly overnight, and they don’t wait for federal resources to shift down to local levels. Public health professionals and health departments need to be made aware of potential outbreaks so they can proactively address and manage it. The CDC has suggested the development of Coordinated Call Centers to spread the word for public health emergencies like influenza pandemics, measles outbreaks, and other threats. Quick communication is essential to stay ahead of an outbreak, and front-line health professionals need efficient tools for outreach and proactive management of these emergency situations.
The Right Tools at the Right Time – Public Health Outbreak Tracking and Monitoring
Built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, AKA’s Public Health Outbreak Tracking and Monitoring solution establishes a chain of contacts to quickly communicate information to responders. Once you establish communication, you can begin to manage the threat. For example, you can divert non-critically ill people away from emergency rooms or deliver information to concerned citizens. You can also create a potential exposure source area or location, then track potential exposure by those originally affected. By mapping areas and identifying trends, you can identify other potentially affected people or areas and act fast to prevent further spreading of the outbreak threat.
Public Health Outbreak Tracking and Monitoring provides a solid platform for developing preventative measures. Flexible and easily configurable, you can design call centers customized for each specific outbreak. Tailor workflows and other automatic notifications for any illnesses or event to align with specific requirements, such as the type of information to be gathered, messaging or other responses. This flexibility makes it easier to adjust responses based on changing situations and the unique needs of your community during these difficult events. With this powerful solution, your front-line public health workers will be able to:
- Identify potential outbreaks using a variety of channels
- Quickly configure the appropriate call center
- Track potentially exposed or infected citizens
- Dispatch health officials to those locations as needed
- Use social media to communicate with the community
- Respond faster to inbound inquiries and release outbound communication to citizens
- Monitor at-risk citizens based on CDC and government protocols to isolate the disease and report results
See just how easy it is to use the Public Health Outbreak Tracking and Monitoring system by watching this video:
Then contact our team of experts to learn how to arm your public health professionals with the right tools at the right time. Let us help you fortify your front-line response teams and proactively prepare for an outbreak.