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Call centers could help with public health crises
Report looks at leveraging resources
Leveraging the resources of established call centers to serve the public in the event of a health emergency is one of the strategies proposed in a recent report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Developed by a panel of experts, the report contains strategies and tools to help community call centers respond to caller concerns about health risks, collect disease surveillance data, sort calls according to urgency, monitor or contact people quarantined at home, and help callers identify and take dispensed drugs appropriately.
The report recommends expanding the capabilities of nurse advice lines, health agency hotlines, poison control centers, and drug information centers.
To guide call centers in adapting for emergencies, a model called the Health Emergency Line for the Public (HELP) was developed. The model, developed by Denver Health under a contract with AHRQ, uses interactive response technology to provide public information and decision support related to health events in Colorado.
A blueprint for the HELP model is provided in the AHRQ report, along with four 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: