North Carolina bio-threat detection system on show at state health director's conference
NCB-Prepared to support earlier threat identification, improved health care through advanced data analysis
(Jan. 26, 2011)
– The attendees at tomorrow's North Carolina State Health Director's Conference will witness the potential impact of a comprehensive, state-wide biosurveillance system that will provide early outbreak detection and situational awareness of health events in North Carolina.
The system is developed by the North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative (NCB-Prepared), a public-private partnership that includes the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), North Carolina State University, and SAS, with support from the US Department of Homeland Security.
When complete, NCB-Prepared system will integrate data from sources as disparate as the environment, animal and human clinical services, and food production, processing, and distribution to detect emerging health threats more quickly and effectively. Examples of data used in the system will include ambulance calls, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, tainted food reports, and veterinary records.
NCB-Prepared will allow public health experts to differentiate between normal health patterns, environmental changes, and natural or manmade bio-threats. It will give decision makers evidence-based information to support better decisions, and lead to innovations across the healthcare spectrum including improved patient care, streamlined day-to-day operations, and better management of health resources.
David Potenziani, NCB-Prepared Executive Director, and Dr. Charles Cairns, Professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine at UNC, will host a workshop at tomorrow's event.
"Local and state health directors have wide-ranging responsibilities for supporting the public's health. Because of that, they are critical to the success of our project, and are also the ones who could be most empowered with information," said Potenziani. "We look forward to sharing the promise of NCB-Prepared and learning additional ways this system could help them do their jobs better every day."
In general, the system will be used by public health practitioners, health care providers, hospital workers, emergency responders, veterinarians, food safety authorities, and decision makers at the local, state, and federal levels.
“Anyone who is charged with keeping the public safe and healthy, whether the threats are manmade or natural, will find value in NCB-Prepared,” said Cairns.
Cairns and Potenziani will demonstrate the effectiveness of the system through a scenario involving a real-world incident that has the attributes of a biological attack. Without NCB-Prepared, in the scenario, it would take days to identify the threat and its source. With the system, the threat is detected quickly, limiting its effect on public health.
NCB-Prepared is designed to extend to other states, but North Carolina will be the first to benefit. North Carolina is a recognized leader in biosecurity and already collects much of the statewide data needed for NCB-Prepared—including data on every ambulance call and emergency room visits from 120 hospitals.
"We are fortunate to launch this in a state that is on the cutting-edge of health data analysis and threat detection," said Cairns. "By building on the success of others and leveraging their expertise, we can create a statewide system unlike any other in America."
For more information on the program and the event visit: http://www.ncb-prepared.org/
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