Bioterror information alert

Wednesday, 16 July, 2003

The US Department of Health and Human Services will begin testing a system using handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) for transmitting urgent information about biological agents to clinicians.

The three-month pilot test of the PDA network is designed to gauge the best ways for officials to communicate effectively with front-line clinicians in the event of a bioterrorist attack. The project will evaluate how and when clinicians download this urgent information and whether they find it useful to receive it via their PDAs.

The project will evaluate the use of a system created by ePocrates, America's largest physicians' handheld network, for sending an urgent 'Doc Alert' message to more than 700,000 front-line clinicians, including more than 250,000 physicians - more than 40% of the practising physicians in the United States.

The test message will contain a special memo on the highest threat (category A) biological diseases/agents, which include anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox, tularemia, and viral hemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola. The message will also include web links for clinicians to go to for additional information about diagnosing and treating the conditions caused by the biological agents.

Clinicians will be able to save this information to their PDAs for future reference.

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