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Consortium awarded CDC grant to coordinate national health system 'radar' to catch bioterror events

rivate group practice, as well as Harvard Medical School faculty at DACP and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Also included are Minnesota-based HealthPartners Research Foundation, the research wing of the similarly named health plan, medical group, and center for health promotion, and Optum, a diversified health care company that will provide its experience with its national nurse telephone triage and health information service. Kaiser Permanente of Colorado, a member of Kaiser Permanente's nine-state health maintenance organization network, and the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of Health Plans, are also equal members of the consortium.

Four of the consortium members--Harvard Pilgrim, Harvard Vanguard, HealthPartners, and Kaiser Permanente, Colorado--currently operate regional syndromic surveillance programs or have surveillance programs for particular diseases, using health plan data, and many of their systems operate using some of the same general principles. The computer systems begin by examining daily patient complaints and diagnosis codes, which indicate the illness that's being treated. The systems then search for upper and lower respiratory illnesses, rashes, fevers, neurologic events, and sepsis, health conditions that are early symptoms of bioterror agents. Each day's results are compared to historical records to identify unusual numbers or geographic clustering. For example, a sudden spike in chest colds on a day in October is compared to the same relative time period going back several years to see if a similar pattern exists or if this event appears to be an anomaly. The data is then sorted by neighborhood to determine if a high number of reported illnesses are coming from one particular town or office.

The consortium will collaborate with the CDC, state and local health departments, the Department of Defense and other organizations currently developing similar systems. Their goal will be to develop data extraction and repor
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Contact: John Lacey
public_affairs@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0442
Harvard Medical School
2-Oct-2002


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