A new web site has been launched by Microsoft Corp. providing users with a H1N1 Self-Assessment tool developed by medical and public health experts at Emory University.
Called H1N1 Response Center, the web site is designed to help people decide what to do if they are worried that they or someone they love has symptoms of the flu, the site offers consumers a self-assessment tool licensed from Emory. The tool helps individuals determine whether the symptoms they have could be caused by the flu virus, whether their illness is severe enough to warrant immediate medical attention, and whether they are at increased risk for developing severe disease. The site also offers practical advice on what to do.
The clinical content of the web site is closely based on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) algorithm for health professionals designed for the 2009-2010 flu season, jointly developed with Emory School of Medicine.
With the current H1N1 flu pandemic underway, public health officials are concerned that critical health care resources could be stretched thin if everyone with the flu symptoms rushes to the nearest ER or doctor's office to determine what to do. Although the flu, including 2009 H1N1 flu, can cause serious illness and death in some people, the majority of people who get the flu will have a have a relatively mild form of illness that gets better on its own.
"Certain people are more vulnerable to the effects of the H1N1 flu virus than others," says Arthur Kellermann, MD, professor of emergency medicine and an associate dean at the Emory School of Medicine. "This website is carefully designed to encourage those who are severely ill, and those at increased risk for serious illness to contact their doctor, while reassuring large numbers of people with mild illness that it is safe to recover at home."
"Hopefully, providing easy to understand information to the public will reduce the number of people who are needlessly exposed to H1N1 influenza in crowded clinic and ER waiting rooms, and allow America's doctors and nurses to focus their attention on those who need us most," adds Kellermann.
Called the Strategy for Off-Site Rapid Triage (SORT) the concept was created and developed by an interdisciplinary team at Emory led by Alexander Isakov, MD, MPH and Kellermann. Microsoft's web site is designed communicates complex health information in simple terms that the public can understand. The content and images used in the site were developed and field- tested with more than 100 community volunteers by the Emory@Grady Health Literacy Team, which includes Ruth Parker, MD, and Lorenzo DiFrancesco, MD, of Emory's School of Medicine, and Kara Jacobson, MPH, of Emory's Rollins School of Public Health.
Emory's algorithm and the idea of using a web-based tool to help flu patients decide what to do is endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the nation's leading organization for the specialty of emergency medicine.
Visit www.h1n1responsecenter.com to find the H1N1 assessment tool.
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