The Michigan Department of Community Health announced a new partnership with Medscape from WebMD to enhance communication efforts of urgent public health messages to Michigan healthcare professionals.

"As we continually respond to health emergencies such as the meningitis and West Nile outbreaks Michigan experienced in recent years, the ability to rapidly communicate with healthcare professionals is crucial to a prompt and coordinated response," said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the MDCH.

"WebMD’s Medscape system is a wonderful complement to Michigan’s existing Health Alert Network system, and helps ensure we have the tools in place to protect the health and wellness of Michigan residents in the event of an emergency."

Davis told WOOD Radio the key moving forward will be how well the new system works with what his department already has.

"What we will need to work on in the future, is how WebMD and Medscape's efforts will dovetail at the local and county levels." Currently, Michigan receives critical health alerts through the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HAN system.

Michigan specific information is then added and alerts are distributed to local health departments, hospitals, health care providers, and other public health partners using the MIHAN.

Michigan is enhancing the distribution of critical health notifications by adding Medscape to reach health professionals with information such as infectious disease outbreaks, environmental and product safety advisories, preparedness planning and response information, and public health developments among other alerts to improve situational awareness.

"Medscape can quickly and effectively reach healthcare providers with vital health information when needed," said Robert Marotta, Senior Vice President & Chief Regulatory Counsel of WebMD.

"As a leading source of health information and news, our goal is to work alongside the Michigan Department of Community Health on both a local and state level to further enhance existing networks of communication to physicians."