New Technology to Enhance Communication Preparedness for Public Health
Acquisition of datacasting and video teleconferencing to aid health agencies
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) recently enhanced the state’s alternative communications capabilities between local public health agencies and hospitals with the addition of datacasting and compressed video teleconferencing systems.
“These newly acquired technologies will serve as both valuable collaboration tools and cost-effective methods for effectively communicating with public health agencies in Kentucky,” said William D. Hacker, M.D., DPH commissioner. “This demonstrates just one way in which public health and our response partners will open up new ways to deliver training and response plans to multiple agencies statewide.”
Datacasting, a data delivery component of the Kentucky Health Alert Network (HAN), allows preparedness and response agencies to communicate over a secure wireless network. This new technology involves an ongoing partnership with Kentucky Educational Television (KET), providing Kentucky public health organizations the opportunity to transmit digital data over the KET wireless television network. The transmitted materials are received by local public health agencies using a digital television antenna and downloaded to a computer. Transmitted data can be archived and made available for repeated viewing at any time. Datacasting also provides an alternative capability to share information when telephone transmissions are disrupted.
“This represents the continuation of an important partnership whereby KET’s latest technological capabilities, such as KET DataCast, are being used to better serve health and safety issues of the people of the commonwealth,” said KET Executive Director Malcolm Wall.
Compressed video teleconferencing is an Internet-based system, allowing users to connect to anyone at any given location that is using the same technology. This provides a way for local health departments across the state to hold meetings and training sessions without traveling to specific locations, saving money and reducing down service time to the community they serve. The network also connects to the Kentucky Telecare Network, expanding our reach to community partners across the state.
The project is a joint effort between DPH and KET. Funding for the datacasting equipment was provided by federal Health Resources and Services Administration grant funding.
The Fletcher administration has focused on increasing public health preparedness statewide through a variety of initiatives and improvements, including: extensive pandemic influenza planning and summits covering all 120 counties; upgrading the DPH emergency operations center and adding a public health mobile communications trailer; establishing regional caches of pharmaceuticals and chemical weapon antidotes; creating the Kentucky Outreach and Information Network, a grassroots network designed to reach vulnerable populations during emergencies; and setting up back-up communications systems for health departments and hospitals statewide, among others.