Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The Health Alert Network (HAN), Public Health Information Network (PHIN) Communication and Alerting (PCA), and Public Health Alerting Systems
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from Reporting Jurisdictions
- 1. What is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Alert Network (HAN)?
CDC HAN is the primary way of getting cleared information to federal, state, territorial, and local public health practitioners; clinicians; public information officers; and public health laboratories about urgent public health incidents that are occurring or have occurred. The mission includes collaborating with federal, state, territorial, city, and county partners to develop protocols and stakeholder relationships that will ensure a robust interoperable platform for the rapid distribution of public health information, including submission of content for further distribution.
- 2. What organization at the CDC manages HAN?
The Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) manages HAN. HAN was formerly managed by the Public Health Informatics and Technology Program Office (PHITPO).
- 3. What is Public Health Information Network (PHIN) Communication and Alerting (PCA)?
PCA is a published set of functional and technical specifications that details the communications capability that public health agencies should have in order to be prepared for and respond to public health events and emergencies.
- 4. What is a public health alerting system?
A public health alerting system is a system that meets PCA specifications and is used by a domestic public health agency to compose, manage, and send alerts to a controlled group of recipients in order to notify them of an event or situation of some importance.
- 5. What is the difference between a state HAN system and a public health alerting system?
A public health alerting system can and should be used for purposes that may lie outside the traditional scope of HAN, particularly since the scope of what constitutes HAN activity has historically had no rigorous and universally accepted definition across all partners. Systems such as staff notification systems for use in the context of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) activities, and incident management systems with capability to rapidly notify public health staff with incident management functional responsibilities, may or may not be conducted by a state HAN program (i.e., may or may not use HAN staff and funding). These types of decisions should be made by each state individually based on their organizational structure and the scope of their HAN program. However, both of these activities, in addition to HAN activities, could certainly be handled by a single public health alerting system as defined by PCA.
- 6. Do awardee public health alerting systems need to adhere to PHIN standards?
Yes. The PHIN Communication and Alerting Guide provides a comprehensive description of the functional and technical specifications for systems that perform public health alerting. To meet PHIN standards, systems must process, send, and manage alerts in a manner that conforms to the requirements of this guide. The PHIN Communication and Alerting Guide, Version 1.3 can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/phin//library/documents/pdf/guides/PCA_Guide-v1.3.pdf.
- 7. Where is more information about HAN, PCA and public health alerting systems located?