The logistics of handling all those panicked people, health care workers, vaccinations, clinics and forms are dizzying. And while health departments have plans in place, it's very difficult to know how well those plans will perform when time is critical and the minutes needed to move patients to a large clinic or for a frightened patient to fill out a form could mean life or death for thousands or millions of people.
Now researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a computer program, based on a clinical model created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to help U.S. state, city and county health care departments create and test more efficient plans for treating infectious illness, whether it's a natural or man-made outbreak.
The program, called RealOpt and created by Dr. Eva Lee, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, will be installed over the next few months at health departments across the state of Georgia and health departments in 35 other states have plans to test the program. While the program is still in the testing phase, it will soon be available free to any government health department that requests it from Georgia Tech.
RealOpt has been tested by the DeKalb County Health Department in Georgia, and the county ran a very successful anthrax drill last year. Lee used RealOpt to help DeKalb test and improve its existing bioterror preparedness plan.
RealOpt takes the numerous variables associated with a health care department's treatment of a very large group of people, and through large-scale simulation and optimization (even considering variables such as panic and language barriers), pinpoints th
Contact: Megan McRainey
Georgia Institute of Technology