State health dept. teams with WebMD to enhance public health alert system

1st Medscape Alert issued Wednesday: declining flu numbers

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[February 14, 2013]  CHICAGO -- The Illinois Department of Public Health announced on Wednesday that it has teamed with Medscape from WebMD, the leading source of information for health care professionals, to communicate urgent public health messages to health care providers in Illinois. The first health alert -- on declining influenza hospital admissions -- was issued Wednesday to health care providers.

"This partnership with WebMD complements our Health Alert Network system and will enhance our existing efforts to ensure that we're reaching health care providers in Illinois through the prompt delivery of urgent public health alerts when needed," said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, IDPH director. "Through this partnership we can send alerts to the more than 40,000 additional registered health care providers statewide."

Currently, IDPH delivers critical health information through health alerts, advisories and social media updates to local health departments, hospitals, health care providers and other public health partners as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national HAN system.

Medscape distributed Illinois' first alert Wednesday, informing its network of registered clinical members via email that the state's severe flu season -- which has seen 608 ICU hospitalizations and 84 deaths through the first week of February -- is waning. For the week ending Feb. 2, there was an 87 percent decline in ICU hospitalizations compared with peak admissions at the beginning of January. The alert also urged providers to continue encouraging the public to get a flu shot.

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"Medscape can quickly disseminate critical health information to health care providers on both a state and local level," said Robert Marotta, senior vice president and chief regulatory counsel of WebMD. "As the leading source of health information and news for health care professionals, Medscape will support the Illinois Department of Public Health in its efforts to efficiently communicate the latest health news to its network of health care providers."

[Text from Illinois Department of Public Health file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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