Public Health Emergency Preparedness
This resource was part of AHRQ's Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2011, in a realignment of Federal efforts.
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A Model for Home-Based Care and Monitoring
This report describes a model to enable community health call centers to support home-management and shelter-in-place approaches in mass casualty or public health emergency events. Community health call centers include poison control centers, nurse advice lines, and other hotlines.
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To guide call centers in adapting for emergencies, a model called the
Health Emergency Line for the Public (HELP) was developed that uses interactive response
technology to provide public information and decision support related to health
events in Colorado. The model was developed by Denver Health under Contract
No. 290-00-0014-12 with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
A blueprint for the HELP model is provided in this report along with four fully
detailed interactive response applications for the model. The applications allow
callers to use their touch-tone phones to automatically retrieve critical information
during a public health emergency. The interactive response applications are:
- A quarantine/isolation monitoring application. This application
can automatically place calls to individuals in home quarantine during a disease
outbreak such as a pandemic influenza to assess their health status. The application
reports on those that don't answer so that followup can be conducted.
- A point-of-dispensing locations application. This application
can provide callers with locations for drug dispensing sites in their county
based on the caller's ZIP Code.
- A drug identification application that can support mass prophylaxis
with antibiotic drugs. This application helps callers identify dispensed
drugs, provides information on how to take them, and describes potential
- A library of frequently asked questions that can disseminate health
department-approved, up-to-date, consistent, and accurate information to
the public and health care providers. This application allows callers
to navigate through a library of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to retrieve
information relative to their concern.
Chapter 1. Final Products
1. National Planning Scenarios Analysis Matrix
2. Potential Health Call Center Capabilities for Four National Planning Scenarios
3. Suggested Elements for Public Health Information and Decision Support Hotlines: the Health Emergency Line for the Public (HELP) Model
4. Interactive Response (IR) Applications
Chapter 2. Background
Incorporating Health Call Centers Into Community Emergency Responses
Addressing Public Concern
Chapter 3. Methodology
Challenges for Preparedness
Community Emergency Response Challenges
Planning for Public Information Needs
Chapter 4. Results
1. Establish an advisory panel of subject matter experts to supplement our expertise and provide assistance and guidance
2. Develop scenarios for mass health emergencies, including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) events, and decide which ones provide the best opportunity for
3. Research existing models, protocols, and algorithms; develop and implement a scenario-based model using poison control centers, nurse call lines, and similar centers
4. Develop a mechanism to test and evaluate the model with a local exercise
Chapter 5. Recommendations
Integration With Current Programs and Initiatives
Public Health Communications and Education
Special Needs Populations
Volunteer Use in Call Centers
Public Information Partnerships
Appendix 1. National Planning Scenarios Analysis Matrix
Appendix 2. Potential Health Call Center Capabilities for Four National Planning Scenarios
Appendix 3. Suggested Elements for Public Health Information and Decision Support Hotlines: the Health Emergency Line for the Public (HELP) Model
Appendix 4. Developing an Interactive Response Tool: The HELP Model
AHRQ Publication No. 07-0048
Current as October 2007