Communications and Alerting CoP

Community Profile

Communications and Alerting CoP

The CACoP supports all aspects of alerting, voice and applicable data communications technologies (e.g. PHIN MS) required to meet the state and CDC missions in support of PHIN.

Location: Nationwide
Members: 118
Latest Activity: Nov 18

This is the meeting and workspace for the CACoP.

To download CoP documents, visit our document repository.


Looking for the Guide for New State HAN Coordinators and the List of 2010 State HAN Systems? These community resources are now located in the Pages section at the right of this page, just below the list of members.

Our community currently has an announcement mailing list in addition to this space. To subscribe, send an email to and type the following in the BODY (not the subject line) of the email:
SUBSCRIBE CACOP-PHIN Yourfirstname Yourlastname
Please replace the text in italics with your actual first and last name. Do not include any other text in the email (such as a signature) or it will return an error.

You should receive an automated message confirming your subscription. If you do not, please send an email to with the subject line “COP”.

Community Discussions and Documents

Communication Plans

Started by Drew Chandler Mar 31, 2014.

Request for epi-x to access state HAN 8 Replies

Started by Kathryn Turner. Last reply by Pradeep Vittal Jan 18, 2011.

Soliciting Advice on Provider Mass Communication 2 Replies

Started by Andrew M Hallett. Last reply by Jeff sexton Sep 15, 2010.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Communications and Alerting CoP to add comments!

Comment by Drew Chandler on March 31, 2014 at 3:04pm

We're looking to update our communications plan (including tactical boots on the ground).  Anyone willing to share as we prepare to meet with the planning branch?

Comment by William Colville on August 11, 2010 at 3:45pm
Michigan has posted some historical information about the actual alerts it has sent out from 2006-2009 on its website,1607,7-132-54783_54826_56166_56167-2...
Comment by Beverly Elliott on June 2, 2010 at 8:26am
Two resources for your reading pleasure.
National Security Strategy
National Health Security Strategy
Comment by Myrlah Olson on May 13, 2010 at 10:31am
Thanks, Janet. This is useful information.
I encourage all HAN coordinators to get their Epi-X certificates and security training updated. If you use a Blackberry, once you have your certificate, you can add it to your Blackberry. It works great.
64% within 3 hours is a baseline we can work from. IMHO, it should be 90% or above.
Comment by Janet Fath on May 12, 2010 at 4:05pm
In response to the April 14, 2010 role-based notification test on Epi-X, 39 of 61 HAN Coordinators (64%) logged on to Epi-X within 3 hours. In total, 45 of 61 (74%) logged on at some point after the test report was posted on Epi-X. One way that these numbers can improve is to be sure that your digital certificate and security training are up-to-date. As of now, 8 HAN Coordinators would not be able to log on to Epi-X because of an expired digital certificate or expired security training. You can determine if you are one of those persons by logging on to Epi-X. If you have problems, please contact our Help Desk at for assistance.

Thanks for your support of Epi-X!

Janet Fath
Epi-X Product Manager
Comment by Mamie Jennings Mabery on February 17, 2010 at 2:50pm
Here's the phConnect Announcement post I just mentioned on the call. "Get Involved in Meaningful Use Discussions" by Lynn Gibbs Scharf on February 8, 2010 at 2:33pm. Go to this announcement on the front page of phConnect and scroll below the post to click on the resources.

CoP Program
Comment by Beverly Elliott on February 17, 2010 at 8:06am
Jim, I think you comments are timely. PHIN has established the technical outline for what a HAN should be. Now we (HAN) need to agree about the business/policy side of HAN, which is where I think the HAN community is right now. It is hard to describe what we want from you when we have a hard time describing what we want for ourselve. I believe states have put a lot of resources into the HAN, thus to justify our existance and the cost, we need to develop ways to use the HAN outside of declared emergencies. I think linkages with other groups in the public health world are a good place to start. FL is involved with Project Ready and they require a HAN as part of communication. I think that is great news for HAN and a direction we should be moving in. The harder question is what we want from you. Perhaps CDC HAN is where messages begin. We all do what we do within our group, but when the information needs to be distributed, we use CDC HAN to do it.

My appologies, I haven't had enough coffee this morning and am now rambling.
Comment by Myrlah Olson on February 16, 2010 at 4:01pm
Thanks, Janet, for posting Jim's comments.
I would have some concern about lumping all states together. We all started from the same grantee duties for developing HANs and have been working with the same technical requirements from PHIN, but the program aspects of HAN can be very different from state to state. From a state perspective (one state-I won't speak for anyone else) the differences between HAN and Epi-X include:
*audience: HAN is trying to reach 'all essential personnel' so depending upon the content of the message it might be sent to local health department staff in different roles, hospitals, clinics, other state agencies, emergency managers, tribal governments, border states, long term care etc etc. Epi-X (because the content isn't fully vetted) limits its audience.
*content: HAN sends messages about anything that might constitute a health threat: infectious disease, food borne outbreaks, drinking water safety after flooding, potential terrorist activities, air quality, extreme heat. Our criteria for what makes a HAN message are: Is the message time sensitive or urgent? Has the content been approved by SMEs and agency management? Will the content allow recipients to respond or prepare to respond to a health threat? Epi-X content is very much infectious disease focused (although I know you're trying to be more inclusive of other public health threats).
*redundancy: 'Redundancy' has been defined in our state grantee duties as radio systems to backup primary electronic delivery of messages. Many states have developed radio systems. CDC has such a system also in the National Public Health Radio System. Incorporating these tools into the discussion and exercises would be useful to all.
multiple use: State HANs are messaging assets in their jurisdictions. Some states are using their HAN infrastucture for purposes outside of public health. This generates support from other state agencies, goodwill, and sometimes additional funding.
branding: I agree that we need some consistency in language around public health alerting. Not all states call their alerting systems Health Alert Network. The plethora of messaging systems from CDC creates some confusion also. CDC has Epi-X, Epi-X Info Exchange, COCA, and HAN.
Interesting topic. I'd like to hear what other states have to say. Myrlah
Comment by Janet Fath on February 16, 2010 at 3:00pm
(I'm posting this message on behalf of Jim Schwendinger, Epi-X Team Lead.)

Dear State HAN Coordinators and Members of the CDC Alerting Community of Practice,

Last summer I realized that the states and CDC have two very different views of a Health Alert Network (HAN). This note is an attempt to clarify some of the issues surrounding CDC HAN and Epi-X and to answer the persistent question of, “What is the difference between Epi-X and HAN?” I’ll do this by comparing content, alerting, and audience for the two systems and then move on to the question of redundancy of messages and what we can do now.

Content and Alerting
States see their HANs as we at CDC see Epi-X: a secure repository of important, time-sensitive public health information, with the capability to notify and alert authorized users as needed. Information on Epi-X and on state HANs is often provisional. Information on Epi-X has not been officially cleared by anyone other than the subject matter expert who contributed it. Users are typically notified when reports are posted on Epi-X through a daily e-mail summary called Epi-X Today. For urgent events, users can be notified by immediate e-mail. For even more urgent events, users can be notified by telephone, pager, and e-mail.

CDC HAN, however, is a distribution channel for information that has been vetted and cleared both by CDC and HHS. CDC expects this information to be distributed widely, including to the public. At approximately the same time that a CDC HAN is sent by e-mail to state and local public health officials, it is also posted on the website and is sent through the Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) to 41,000 individual subscribers and 173 Partner organizations (who in turn disseminate it to their members).

The audience for Epi-X is key public health officials who are authorized through their affiliation with state and local health departments, CDC, or other agencies with a public health mission. Contact information for Epi-X users is stored in the Epi-X Directory, which is maintained by the users themselves.

The audience for CDC HAN overlaps with that of Epi-X: both include state and local public health officials. Each state’s HAN Coordinator enters and maintains contact information for the state’s public health officials within the PHIN Directory. Information for local public health officials is updated in the PHIN Directory regularly by a scheduled data transfer from NACCHO.

The number of Epi-X users is close to 6,000. A total of 6,472 e-mail addresses receive CDC HAN messages through the CDC HAN system. Some of the CDC HAN e-mail addresses are for group mailboxes or for auto-forwarding e-mail accounts.

In the future, we will ensure that Epi-X users who are also in the PHIN Directory will receive each CDC HAN message only one time. Until that time, some users will receive redundant messages.

What You Can Do Now
One small step we can all take now to avoid confusion is to use the term “CDC HAN” when referring to the CDC HAN system and messages. Likewise, we can specify “state HAN system” when referring to state HAN systems.

Please engage in discussions with us about long term solutions. You can start by reviewing the feedback on from Epi-X users who described how they used the system in the H1N1 response. Feel free to add your own comments, including problems you encountered with CDC HAN.

In the short term, please be patient as we work through the issues related to redundancies.

Additional Background
One additional piece of information I would like to share is that while both Epi-X and CDC HAN are in the Emergency and Risk Communication Branch, CDC HAN components are divided between two teams. The Epi-X team is responsible for database maintenance and message distribution. The Public Health Workforce team has control over HAN construction, editing, content and clearance. We strive to maximize communication between our two teams and to minimize problems for you.

In closing, I invite your thoughts about this message and would like to discuss the topic with you soon.


On Behalf of Epi-X and CDC HAN Operations,

Jim Schwendinger MSN MPH ANP-C
Team Lead, Epi-X
Emergency Risk Communication Branch
Division of Emergency Operations
Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Control and Prevention (CDC)
Office 404.639.4520
Cell 404.388.3548
Fax 404.639.3903
Comment by John McLamb on February 10, 2010 at 11:35am

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