NU Online News Service, March 4, 1:03 p.m. – Officials from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago, want to help the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, improve the national bioterrorism communications system.

Blue Cross association officials hope to talk to CDC officials in May about making an existing CDC broadcast network available to the 700,000 doctors in Blues plans’ provider networks.

Most of the organizations that get the network are now public health schools.

Dr. Allan Korn, chief medical officer at the Blue Cross association, described the proposed communications system project in Charleston, S.C., at the spring meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Charleston, S.C.

The United States already has a “magnificent infrastructure” for reaching members of the public health community, Korn said.

In times of crisis, “that system can be used to reach out to all of us,” Korn said.

The CDC and the Blue Cross association still have to work out practical details, such as deciding who will pay for the costs of any joint efforts, but the communications system project and other networking projects could ease detection of outbreaks of illnesses, such as pneumonia, caused by bioterrorism, Korn said.

Improved communications might even help officials determine the cause of a bioterrorism event and inoculate medical personnel, so that they could enter the affected areas and minister to victims, Korn said.