TB Notes Newsletter
No. 3, 2007
COMMUNICATIONS, EDUCATION, AND BEHAVIORAL
STUDIES BRANCH UPDATE
A Review of DTBE’s First Year Using the
CDC INFO Call
February 2007 marked the 1-year anniversary of DTBE’s
use of CDC INFO services, instead of DTBE staff, to respond to TB
questions from persons outside of CDC. CDC INFO is a contract service
employed by CDC to respond to consumer, provider, and partner inquiries,
via phone and e-mail, with the intent of providing a central CDC
access point to the public.
CDC INFO was first launched in February 2005, with a limited number
of CDC programs utilizing this service. DTBE began using CDC INFO
as part of the second implementation phase in 2006, along with several
other CDC programs. By 2008, all CDC programs will be using CDC
INFO to respond to inquiries from the public and health care professionals.
CDC INFO consists of three staffing tiers, with each group responsible
for responding to different levels of inquiries. Those in tier 1
answer questions from the general public and are required to use
scripted responses. Tier 2 staff answer basic inquiries from health
professionals and may use scripted responses or search DTBE-approved
websites for appropriate answers. Those in tier 3 respond to questions
from health professionals and have the option to use approved content,
information from Internet searches, or personal knowledge to answer
questions. Tier 3 employees are required to be health professionals,
whereas tier 1 and tier 2 staff are not.
The transition to CDC INFO from an in-house system of answering
public inquiries about TB (i.e., the Duty Officer system) required
significant input and oversight by DTBE staff. In preparation for
the transition, DTBE developed scripted responses about TB for CDC
INFO, notified partners and customers about the transition through
existing CDC communication systems (e.g., DTBE website, CDC Public
Inquiries phone line), developed procedures for DTBE staff to handle
complex inquiries escalated from CDC INFO, and provided TB training
for CDC INFO staff. As part of continuous quality assurance, DTBE
monitors e-mail responses daily and a sample of phone call responses
To ensure that CDC INFO employees are capable of addressing TB
questions accurately, DTBE created and provided scripts, or prepared
responses. DTBE staff provided in-person and teleconference training
for CDC INFO staff to ensure everyone knew key facts about TB, such
as the difference between latent TB infection and active TB disease.
Initial development of prepared responses was based on an internal
assessment of DTBE staff previously responsible for answering inquiries
from the public. Usage statistics for DTBE’s website also
helped determine frequently requested information. Material in the
prepared responses was customized for CDC INFO by tier to meet the
needs of the different types of inquirers. New prepared responses
and revisions to existing prepared responses are added to the CDC
INFO database as needed.
At the conclusion of the first year, DTBE reviewed data on CDC
INFO to determine its effectiveness as a communication tool and
examine the overall benefits and drawbacks of this system. CDC INFO
provides reports to DTBE with process data, such as numbers of telephone
calls and e-mails, and TB topics covered.
Between February 2006 and January 2007, CDC INFO received approximately
1,000 e-mail inquiries and about 3,000 phone call inquiries regarding
TB. These numbers are estimates because actual numbers of calls
and e-mails received per month were not available until October
2006. Nevertheless, the number of inquiries is impressive considering
that DTBE did not actively promote the use of CDC INFO beyond the
posting notices during the transition period.
Compared to all CDC programs that use CDC INFO, TB topics consistently
rank in the top 100 for e-mail inquiries, but have not made the
top 100 for phone calls. The three most frequently requested TB
topics of inquiry were diagnosis and testing, general information,
and transmission. These included questions from the general public
as well as from health professionals.
DTBE’s rating of how CDC INFO handles inquiries has improved
over time. This suggests that as CDC INFO personnel have become
more familiar with TB and the inquiry procedures, the quality of
the services being provided and DTBE’s satisfaction with CDC
INFO have both increased.
The majority of inquiries in the first year of use were handled
solely by CDC INFO, with only a small percentage escalated for DTBE
response. Certain inquiries are automatically escalated to DTBE,
such as those from other federal agencies. Others are escalated
to DTBE because CDC INFO is unable to answer the question with available
resources. Also, CDC INFO often refers inquirers to their state
TB control office or their national TB control program, if living
United States, for further assistance.
limitations, CDC INFO provides many benefits to its customers and
DTBE. Not only do CDC INFO staff provide TB information in English
and Spanish 24-hours a day, they are capable of handling an increased
volume of inquiries from a wide audience. DTBE would not have been
able to provide these services without assistance from CDC INFO.
In addition, CDC INFO provides a means to assess what TB information
the public seeks. This has enabled DTBE to create new education
materials to address information gaps and helps guide the redesign
of the DTBE website.
Contact CDC INFO for information about TB and other health topics.
CDC INFO is available by phone at 1-800-CDC-INFO
(232-4636) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
—Reported by Holly
Wilson, MHSE, CHES
Div of TB Elimination