Use of Technology to Support Information Needs for Continuity of Operations Planning in Public Health: A Systematic Review

Blaine Patrick Reeder, Anne Turner, George Demiris


Objectives: Continuity of operations planning focuses on an organization’s ability to deliver essential services before, during and after an emergency. Public health leaders must make decisions based on information from many sources and their information needs are often facilitated or hindered by technology. The aim of this study is to provide a systematic review of studies of technology projects that address public health continuity of operations planning information needs and to discuss patterns, themes, and challenges to inform the design of public health continuity of operations information systems.

Methods: To return a comprehensive results set in an under-explored area, we searched broadly in the Medline and EBSCOHost bibliographic databases using terms from prior work in public health emergency management and continuity of operations planning in other domains. In addition, we manually searched the citation lists of publications included for review.

Results: A total of 320 publications were reviewed. Twenty studies were identified for inclusion (twelve risk assessment decision support tools, six network and communications-enabled decision support tools, one training tool and one dedicated video-conferencing tool). Levels of implementation for information systems in the included studies range from proposed frameworks to operational systems.

Conclusion: There is a general lack of documented efforts in the scientific literature for technology projects about public health continuity of operations planning. Available information about operational information systems suggest inclusion of public health practitioners in the design process as a factor in system success.

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *