Timeliness is a critical issue in preventing the spread of emerging/notifiable infectious diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or avian influenza (bird flu). Current computerized surveillance systems in many countries have demonstrated their usefulness in detecting specified communicable-diseases. However, the off-line, daily or weekly data reporting mode induces a time lag in data collection, transmission, processing, and responses. This paper proposes an on-line real-time mechanism, named EDICTS, for emerging/notifiable infectious diseases control, tracking and surveillance. It is based on the on-line health IC card system and works at the registration process of primary care practices and emergency departments. Hence, should a disease defined by CDC (Center for disease control) be detected at the registration station, EDICTS responds in real time. Note that EDICTS is a mechanism; it is CDC that determines the policy and activates it. A prototype is designed and implemented on a simulated environment of the Taiwan's national health insurance IC card system. The proposed policy and rules are defined according to the CDC regulations. Timely, sensitive and cost-effective, EDICTS complements the existing successive level of CDC reporting system as a fast-response control channel.
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