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Informatics Assistance (Info-Aids)

PHIFP fellows have responded to Info-Aid requests from:

  • 14 international health organizations
  • 28 state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments
  • 32 CDC programs
  • 4 federal agencies

In collaboration with the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), PHIFP fellows have provided joint technical assistance with Epi-Aids.

An Info-Aid is a mechanism used to provide short-term technical assistance to meet an urgent public health informatics need. When a public health authority requests assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an Info-Aid allows rapid technical assistance by PHIFP fellows. The length of an Info-Aid can vary based on the complexity of the request, but typically lasts between 2-3 weeks and can be extended if needed. PHIFP fellows serve as data detectives and apply their skills in information communication and data exchange to help investigate and solve the requesting agency’s urgent informatics need.

Info-Aids can provide:

  • Access to informatics expertise and technical support during public health emergencies;
  • Strategic planning and informatics assessments to design, develop, and evaluate public health information systems; and
  • Support to staff who monitor health information systems for disease surveillance and outbreak response

Public health officials from local, state, federal,  international, and non-profit public health entities may contact PHIFP@cdc.gov  to request an Info-Aid.

Since 2005, PHIFP fellows have participated in more than 100 Info-Aid requests. These include requests for assistance during public health responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Haiti earthquake, H1N1, Ebola, outbreaks of HIV traced to injection drug use in Indiana, Zika virus, and Seoul virus.

Some example activities of Info-Aids include:

  • Creating live information dashboards for outbreak investigations to more efficiently track and manage data used by epidemiologists
  • Integrating information from different data systems into a standard system available to multiple users throughout the Kenyan healthcare system
  • Assisting in CDC’s Zika response by streamling information about mosquito breeding and Zika prevention practices among pregnant women for use by staff in local health departments

“Public health informaticians are ‘bridgers.’ In an Info-Aid, it’s all about the data and it’s all about the relationships: these are not in isolation from each other.  If you can bridge these two areas for the client, you have helped them succeed in improving health for their populations.”Catherine Pepper (PHIFP Class of 2008)

“Info-Aids give you the opportunity to be exposed to different aspects of CDC and other organizations. Each Info-Aid experience pushes you to think critically about complex problems in a short period of time. You are ultimately pushed out of your comfort zone which creates opportunities for innovative and collaborative approaches to solving these complex problems.”- Brittani Harmon (PHIFP Class of 2016)

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