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JMC at the 2017 APHL Annual Meeting

This year over 700 hundred public health laboratory professionals convened in Providence, Rhode Island for the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) Annual meeting. This meeting allows professionals to share their work and expertise and provides the opportunity for JMC to meet with clients, partners and friends from around the country.  Several of this year’s unique sessions were of particular interest to us at JMC.

JMC presented a poster on communication strategies for successful informatics projects

In a session entitled “Using Narratives to Demystify Public Health Laboratory Science”, Liz Neeley of the Story Collider described the power of story-telling in conveying complex scientific ideas. This session highlighted the need to create an emotional connection with your audience and how in doing this, the listener can more readily understand and support the ideas.  By providing anecdotes rather than solely focusing on data, public health scientists can successfully garner support for the important work that needs to be done to protect the public’s health.  More information about Story Collider can be found on their website , but, anecdotally, listening to the podcasts on an airplane may result in spontaneous laughing or crying so download with caution.

We took a little time out of the conference to sponsor happy hour and play some Foosball.

Another session of interest was “The L-SIP Update: Stories from Recent L-SIP Participants” in which speakers from the Los Angeles County and South Dakota Public Health laboratories described their experiences with the Laboratory system Improvement Program (L-SIP). The L-SIP is an APHL developed tool aimed at improving laboratory systems through a guided process of performance evaluation, system improvements and periodic evaluation and reassessment. The LA County and South Dakota laboratories described their experience and challenges in conducting the assessment, as well as the quality improvements that came as a result.  In both laboratories, the assessment revealed that improvements in communication between the laboratory and their partners would be beneficial, and also highlighted the importance of the L-SIP process in defining and initiating these communication paths. To learn more about L-SIP visit APHL’s website.

The session “Understanding Public Health in the Cloud” was especially relevant as more informatics projects move toward cloud hosting. Eduardo Gonzalez Loumiet from UberOps described the increased usage of the APHL Informatics Messaging Services (AIMS) platform over the last year, and focused on APHL’s efforts to increase monitoring and support for the large volume of data being sent though this system.  Of particular interest was a presentation by Bernadette Matthis from the Philadelphia Public Health laboratory who described the laboratory’s cost-benefit analysis of using a cloud hosted application.   Philadelphia ultimately decided not utilize a cloud hosted application due to the cost and security concerns of this solution.  Philadelphia’s conclusion aligns with the experiences of many public health laboratories whose policies and budgets do not provide the support needed to use this technology. More information on the AIMS platform can be found on APHL’s website.

These are just a few of the many novel and exciting presentations at this year’s annual meeting. For a full agenda and links to the presentations, please visit the APHL website.