211862 Expanding electronic health information: Implications for public health practice

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:50 AM

Julia Gunn, RN, MPH , Communicable Disease Control Division, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston, MA
The expanded use of electronic medical records (EMR) and the development of health information exchanges (HIE) can provide public health with increasing amounts of data. The majority of health data systems such as syndromic and reportable diseases are maintained in silos. In addition, public health agencies are challenged to evaluate and respond to the actionable data findings with decreased resources both IT infrastructure and personnel.

Systems and statistical tools are needed to improve the conversion of data to information that can inform public health response at federal, state, and local levels. Design considerations include efficiency, workforce needs, and cost. Systems should also support the use of other electronic data such as local geographic information.

Challenges in public health surveillance and practice include:

Differentiating outbreaks from improved reporting related to new diagnostic testing

Identification of high risk contacts for screening and prophylaxis in health care institutions and other congregate living settings

Identifying disease transmission patterns and the effectiveness of countermeasures including personal protective equipment and prophylaxis

Increased case counts with limited resources for individual investigations.

Successful strategies will need to consider data availability and quality, cross jurisdictional communication, and workforce training needs at federal, state and local agencies. Statistical tools, mapping, and informatics have the potential to improve public health surveillance and response. Collaborative partnerships are essential to improve the timeliness, efficiency and effectiveness of public health surveillance.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe information technology advances in public health surveillance. 2. Discuss the specific clinical information being made available through electronic medical records. 3. Describe challenges faced by local health departments in adapting to new sources of information.

Keywords: Data/Surveillance, Information System Integration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as disease surveillance coordinator for the Boston Public Health Commission and as an elected member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Disease Surveillance.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.