lunes, 23 de julio de 2012

Q&A With Al Almanza: FSIS Redesigns Data System for Public Health

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza launched Public Health Information System, which centralizes plant inspection data and makes it accessible in real time.  
Q: How is the Public Health Information System (PHIS) an advance over the old system?
A: This is one of the most important things we've done for our field inspectors. We're able to provide inspectors the tools to perform their daily tasks and give them the ability access the information that they are putting into the system in real time. They are able to act on that information in real time - that's what public health and food safety is all about, it's about being proactive rather than reactive.
I still have a lot of friends who are inspectors and they are excited about this because they no longer have to rely on their front line supervisors or their district office for data mining. They're able to access the plant data in real time. They can look at what's occurring in an establishment when they rotate in or when they substitute for someone in an establishment. This was a rather difficult thing to do with our former system, PBIS [Performance Based Inspection System].
Q: Can you give an example of a task that would be easier under PHIS?
A: You could pick any task. If an inspector is covering three or four plants, they rotate every quarter. Previously, the incoming inspector had no data to be able to tell how the plant was performing, other than noncompliance reports. Under PHIS, because the system is built by the establishment, inspectors can see how the plant is performing. For example, under PBIS the only information that was recorded in the tasks schedule was NR (noncompliance reports). Under PHIS, it's whatever the inspector observes. It's much more inclusive of what the establishment is doing.
Q: Now that it's up and running, what are you learning? Is there anything that has been surprising or challenging? I have heard in some areas inspectors have had trouble connecting to the system.
A: We're learning a lot. It was such a huge, huge undertaking. One of the things that has happened is that our sampling rate has gone up from what it was under PBIS. I think that's a positive thing.
I've asked my team to develop the disconnected state and address the issues so that, in areas where there are problems with connectivity, inspection personnel can document their findings while disconnected from the internet. [Part of the problem is lack of wireless internet service in certain rural areas.]
Source: USDA, PHIS

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