(CAP) to support health alerting and data interchange. Under the current
systems in Sri Lanka and India, patient data from regional and community
health centers is gathered using paper-based forms and procedures. These
forms are then sent to regional health officials where data analysis is carried
out by qualified staff to identify potential disease outbreaks. Notifications
are then issued from the regional health administrations to local authorities,
again using paper-based reporting methods.
The RTBP testbed substitutes each of these existing procedures with ICT-
based components. Patient data will be gathered using software application
implemented on handheld electronic devices and transmitted to a central
server using a wireless data link. Data will be drawn from the central server
and analysis will be carried out using advanced software developed by the
Carnegie Mellon University Auton Lab. Results are made available to regional
and local health officials as electronic notifications accessible through a vari-
ety of devices, including mobile phones.
In addition to the test-bed component, the RTBP initiative is also examining
interoperability issues associated with national and international health-related
organizations in the region of Sri Lanka and southern India. It is anticipated
that implementation of the alerting and notification component will provide
important evidence regarding the opportunities and challenges associated with
interjurisdictional alerting and notification for e-health systems in the region.
The RTBP Alerting and Notification Guide is based on the U.S. Center for
Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Information Network (PHIN)
Communication and Alerting Guide (PCA). The PCA Guide has been identi-
fied as useful model on which to base the RTBP Guide because it addresses the
problem of interjurisdictional alerting, provides a comprehensive set of alert-
ing attributes identified through extensive consultation with public health
experts, and expresses these attributes using Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)
and Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL). RTBP will incorporate both
CAP and EDXL as data interchange standards for use in the test bed in order
to serve the primary objective of the project, and also to take into account other
objectives related to system growth and regional interoperability.
14.2 The Role of Information Technology
Standards in Health Alerting
The role of information technology standards is now recognized as an
important element in the field of biosurveillance (Hogan and Wagner 2006).
Generally speaking, the primary objective of any standard is to foster interop-
erability among the components parts within a complex system. According
to CDC-PHIN, “[a] degree of standardization of alert format helps to ensure
that public health organizations can communicate effectively within their