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Adapting Community Call Centers for Crisis Support

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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Appendix 4. Developing an Interactive Response Tool: The HELP Model


1.0 Introduction
   1.1 Planning Phase
   1.2 Analysis Phase
   1.3 Design Phase
   1.4 Implementation Phase
   1.5 Evaluation Phase
2.0 Interactive Response Tool Planning Document
   2.1 System Business Value
   2.2 Goals
   2.3 Roles and Responsibilities
   2.4 Objectives
   2.5 Feasibility Analysis
   2.6 Resources and Timeline
3.0 Interactive Response Tool Business and Functional Requirements (Analysis) Document
   3.1 Business Requirements
   3.2 Functional Requirements
4.0 Interactive Response Tool Design Document
   4.1 Quarantine/Isolation Monitoring Application
   4.2 Drug Identification Application
   4.3 Point of Dispensing Application
   4.4 Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) Library Application
5.0 Interactive Response Tool Implementation Document
   5.1 Testing
   5.2 Training
   5.3 Migration
   5.4 Success Measures
6.0 Interactive Response Tool Evaluation Document
   6.1 San Luis Valley Region Exercise
   6.2 North Central Region Exercise
   6.3 Evaluation Summary
   6.4 Future Research

   Appendix 4-A. Case/Contact Investigation Form
   Appendix 4-B. QI Monitoring Call Log
   Appendix 4-C. DI Evaluation Form
   Appendix 4-D. POD Evaluation Form
   Appendix 4-E. FAQ Library Evaluation Form

1.0 Introduction

We used a project methodology-driven approach (Figure 1) in developing this Interactive Response (IR) Tool. By adhering to best practices standards, this project methodology can save time, money, and resources by adhering to step-by-step processes from planning through evaluation to maximize benefit and minimize risk. Each phase of the project should result in documentation to adequately capture the knowledge exchange and most appropriate decisions.

The following reviews the five phases and the strategies we employed in each to develop an IR solution for providing the most beneficial and efficient support for health call center services during public health emergencies. These IR solution requirements were largely formed from our call center experiences in responding to public health events and the types of services we anticipate being needed for responding to specific scenarios. This same project methodology can be utilized to replicate this IR solution and its applications within another call center environment, to adapt them to other scenarios, or to use similar applications with other technology or much reduced technology (such as developing call handling algorithms for use by call handling personnel). The importance of this tool and the IR solution described is to provide a framework for other health call centers to develop the needed capabilities for responding to events in their own communities.

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1.1 Planning Phase

The planning phase (Figure 1-1) identifies why a technology solution such as IR should be implemented and determines how the project team will implement it. During this phase, the system's business value to the organization is identified (e.g., improve care, lower costs, increase profits). The problem or goal is defined as well as how the technology can serve as a solution for the problem. The goal(s) for the solution should align with the organization's goals.

A selection or steering committee is then established to represent the organization's decisionmakers and key stakeholders. This group ultimately makes the selection decision and provides oversight for integration of the new technology into the organization. A project team is established and is responsible for understanding the technology, knowing of any associated restrictions on it, understanding the impact of any decisions on other technology within the organization, making decisions for the overall good of the application of the technology, and becoming the key resource for the application once implemented.

The project team manages all aspects of the project through the planning, analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation phases. A feasibility study guides the selection of the system by determining the opportunities and limitations of the proposed technology, whether its applications will address the identified problems and if the organization should proceed. The feasibility study also identifies the objectives of the system, costs, benefits, value of the system, and the scope of the project. The expected deliverable from the planning phase is the Planning Document (Section 2).

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1.2 Analysis Phase

The analysis phase (Figure 1-2) answers the questions of who will use the technology/system, what capabilities it will have, and where and when it will be used. The project team assesses the current systems, identifies improvement opportunities, and determines the functions that the new technology/system is to perform. The focus of this phase is on the users of the technology/system and their needs. The project team determines functional specifications through conducting interviews and/or gathering data from planners, operations staff and end-users. The expected deliverable from the analysis phase is the Business and Functional Requirements (Analysis) Document (Section 3).

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1.3 Design Phase

The design phase (Figure 1-3) determines how the technology/system will operate in terms of hardware, software, and within any network infrastructure; user interfaces, forms and reports; and the applications, programs, databases, and files needed. During this phase it is determined whether the technology/system will accomplish the work through either selecting an existing product or designing a new product. The expected deliverable from the design phase is the Design Document (Section 4).

The Design Document contains four applications (inbound and outbound) that address specific capabilities that we determined would be needed during certain scenarios. These applications should increase efficiency and reduce personnel support for providing services to communities experiencing health emergencies:

  • Quarantine/Isolation (QI) Monitoring Application (outbound application).
  • Drug Identification (DI) Application (inbound application).
  • Point of Dispensing (POD) Application (inbound application).
  • Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) Library Application (inbound application).

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1.4 Implementation Phase

The implementation phase (Figure 1-4) includes building or purchasing the technology/system, testing and piloting it, training staff, migration into an active environment, and then going live. During this phase, the technology solution undergoes comprehensive testing by first the project team and then other users. This allows for both coarse and fine-tuning to validate that the design meets the requirements and objectives. The overall implementation plan is developed and followed, appropriate users are included in the process, realistic time frames are established, and communication is highlighted. Depending on the environment of your call center, you may want to consider utilizing change management strategies and training to create a positive environment for learning and change among the staff impacted by the implementation. In addition, criteria for measuring success will be developed. The expected deliverable from the implementation phase is the Implementation Document (Section 5).

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1.5 Evaluation Phase

The evaluation phase (Figure 1-5) describes and assesses the overall performance of the technology/system once it has been piloted and used. An evaluation methodology is developed and the results are disseminated, reviewed, and discussed so that the feedback can be utilized for technology/system improvements. The expected deliverable from the evaluation phase is the Evaluation Document (Section 6).

The Evaluation Document contains our experiences with testing the QI Monitoring Application in two instances:

  1. A rural community exercise with an early version of the application, and
  2. An urban area exercise with a more developed version of the application. Both exercises contributed to improvements of the application so that it is ready for actual usage in an emergency.

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