U.S. Gives $1.8 Million to Expand Bio-Terrorism Detection Program

Paladin Data Systems, a software engineering firm headquartered in Poulsbo, Wash., has been awarded a $1.8 million contract from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command to conduct additional research and expand the Outbreak Detection Information Network (ODIN).

ODIN, a wide-area monitoring program that, when complete, will detect near-real-time trends in healthcare treatment and diagnosis, is a joint research and development project of Paladin Data Systems, the Foundation for Quality Health Care, the Department of Defense, University of Washington, the Washington State Department of Health and the public health departments of Kitsap County, Tacoma/Pierce County and Seattle/King County. The original goal of the ODIN project was to provide early detection of bio-terrorism events.

"This technology has the potential to greatly improve our response times to a bio-terrorism act," said Dr. Peter Dunbar of the Foundation for Quality Healthcare, an ODIN project principal investigator. "It also offers the capability to better monitor and track normal health events across communities, such as flu, food poisoning, SARS and other types of outbreaks."

The ODIN system has been under development for the past year in the Puget Sound region, and the additional funding will expand the system to cover more of Washington state, and integrate additional sources of information into the system, such as over-the-counter drug sales and 911 aid calls.

"We've been able to expand on Sen. Patty Murray's initial vision of a system that merged the public and Department of Defense health monitoring into a common view by creating an integrated system that provides enhanced functionality and data interchange to users across geographic and organizational boundaries, without adding significantly to the overall cost of the system," said Gary Macy, Paladin ODIN project leader.

Dunbar said the ODIN project will serve to create a statewide Syndromic Surveillance system. ODIN has the potential to make health data sharing between health care systems possible. According to him, ODIN could create a significant positive impact on the health care infrastructure of not only the state, but of the nation.

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