In today's global community the ability to prepare for a disease outbreak in order to mitigate the public health, social, and economic impacts on a community depends upon data to support the decision and response process. Data can come from a variety of sources. These sources not only include the medical and health care community, but also geographic, demographic, and socio-economic data. The ability to capture and utilize the data effectively from these types of data sources can mean the difference between a manageable disease outbreak that represents little or no threat to a community and one that causes a significant social and economic impact.
As the health profession expands the applied use of information technology within the medical and health care communities, opportunities are created to expand the use of new data sources to support information based decisions. Information that can be used to provide early warning for disease outbreaks both naturally occurring or through a bioterrorist event; information that can be used to plan, analyze and respond to a disease event; information that can support a community's preparedness activities in order to minimize a public health event.
This chapter illustrates how applied compunetics can be used to support health care as the public health professional responds to, and manages, naturally occurring diseases as well as emerging new disease threats. An electronic health environment (EHE) vision is presented that capitalizes on the use of a variety of environmental, medical, and health care data to support disease early warning, reporting, case and outbreak management and community preparedness.
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