New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Combats Bioterrorism with Health Alert Network

RESTON, Va. -- Increased risk for major bioterrorist activities has raised the need for immediate, secure and collaborative alerting and content sharing functions, linking emergency medical responders with public health officials. To that end, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has launched the Health Alert Network, a portal solution developed by Dimension Data Holdings, plc, to mobilize, educate and support communities of interest on distinct health threats via a secure platform and intuitive interface.

Dimension Data, a global technology company, developed the Health Alert Network to enable early warning and provide quick distribution of diagnostic and treatment information surrounding unusual disease outbreaks and bioterrorist events. Doctors and hospital workers in New York City now have immediate access and distribution rights to documents such as disease fact sheets, protocols, and clinical guidelines. The Health Alert Network also contains an alert broadcast system that can send alert messages to local hospitals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through pagers, cell phones and e-mail.

In addition to the distribution of health alerts and prevention guidelines, the system connects the city's DOHMH with the CDC to conduct initiatives such as national disease surveillance and electronic laboratory reporting. Dimension Data hosts and maintains the Health Alert Network to provide 24/7 access of priority health communications, disaster recovery planning, and fail-over services. By launching the Health Alert Network, the department is compliant with the CDC mandate that all local and state governments implement a nationwide, integrated information and communications system.

"New York City is dedicated to winning the war on bioterrorism," said Ed Carubis, CIO of New York City's DOHMH. "Together with Dimension Data we believe we have launched the best early detection and communication system available to protect our citizens and ensure that emergency medical responders have the knowledge and support necessary to react to any bioterrorism situation."

Main features of NYC's DOHMH Health Alert Network include:

* High-speed, secure Internet connection to provide instantaneous access

to disease reports, CDC information, and response plans

* Early warning systems, including multi-channel alerting capabilities

with sophisticated call-down abilities, to alert authorities and the

media regarding potential emergency situations

* Coordinated public health response

* Secure and scalable channel for local, state, and federal health

authorities to coordinate with each other and law enforcement

* Distance-learning capacity to educate health care professionals

* Central library of current, accessible, and searchable clinical material

for researching treatments

"Dimension Data's portal solution was developed in conjunction with HP, Intel and Microsoft and was designed using the company's expertise in the healthcare industry," said Andrew Cohen, Dimension Data's managing director of government services for integration services. "Depending on a state or local health department's budget, resources, and existing IT infrastructure, Dimension Data's Health Alert Network can be either fully customized, a packaged commercial off-the-shelf solution, or subscription-based."

Some examples of where and how Dimension Data's Health Alert Network portal solution can be of use include:

1. As an alert mechanism, a health department administrator posts an

alert to the system. The system recognizes the alert and can send a

message to the alert broadcast system. This system can then send the

message to local hospitals and the CDC through pagers, cell phones, and


2. As an interactive communications tool, Hospital "A" uploads a

diagnostic or treatment-related document and Hospital "B" downloads the

same document; healthcare professionals at both locations can log into

a chat room to discuss it.

3. As a conferencing solution, the department of health hosts an

infectious disease specialist to give a seminar, and other hospitals

are able to log into the conferencing system to view the seminar


Source: Dimension Data Holdings, plc