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National Hospital Available Beds for Emergencies and Disasters (HAvBED) System

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

This resource was part of AHRQ's Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2011, in a realignment of Federal efforts.

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III. Background

As an integrated delivery system and a regional Level One Trauma center, Denver Health has experience with the full spectrum of health care service areas such as hospitals, emergency departments, ambulatory care and public health facilities. Denver Health has been operating Denver County's EMS system for over 30 years. As a major participant in Operation TOPOFF 2000 and Nunn-Lugar-Domenici exercises, activities of the Denver Center for Public Health Preparedness (DCPHP), linkages with the Colorado Front Range Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS), and previous surge capacity task orders with AHRQ, Denver Health has direct experience in coordinating health care system bioterrorism preparedness with multiple levels of government and numerous agencies and providers, including US Northern Command and the States that comprise Federal Region VIII. Through these strong collaborative efforts and experiences with State and national agencies, Denver Health has learned lessons and gained the insight necessary for planning and developing this national bed reporting mechanism. Moreover, Denver Health has a unique cooperative relationship with city/county and State governments on multiple levels, including the area of preparedness. This experience, expertise and regional recognition has contributed to the development of a standardized "real-time" National Hospital Available Beds for Emergencies and Disasters (HAvBED) that addresses complex system needs.

Multiple bed availability systems have been developed around the country to satisfy various needs, such as hospital diversion status and resource availability. It was the goal of this project to demonstrate the feasibility of dynamically amalgamating data from several of these systems as well as allowing manual data entry via a secure Web interface by hospitals that do not participate in these systems, into one integrated system called HAvBED. This demonstration HAvBED system is expected to improve the ability of planners, providers and decision makers to understand acute hospital and alternative care site bed availability in "real time" on a regional and national basis.

The creation of this demonstration system also necessitated the development of standardized bed-related definitions and a common communication protocol. It became clear that a common communication protocol based on the EXtensible Markup Language (XML) would facilitate data transfer between the participating systems and the demonstration HAvBED system. It was determined that, if possible, this communication protocol should be consistent with and build upon work already begun in the area of medical and emergency communication. To achieve this, an Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) schema was developed for this project.

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