Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Leveraging the Electronic Health Record for Public Health Alerting

With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and its focus on EHR systems, public health has an unprecedented opportunity to leverage the information, technologies and standards enabled by this effort to support critical public health functions such as alerting and surveillance. Having public health systems interface with EHR might be able to prevent clinicians from being bombarded during health emergencies, as they were during the H1N1 pandemic with multiple sources, some of which provided contradictory information. The CDC hosted a conference call on June 22, 2010 on this subject.

Nedra Garrett, MS, acting director of the CDC's division of informatics practice, policy, and coordination, discussed strategies to increase compliance with public health recommendation and guidelines, and also how improved dissemination of public health information at point of care can lead to more timely patient specific information by utilizing EHR systems. She said some of the challenges are to connect public health alerts and guidance to relevant patient data in the EHR and to make sure systems have a meaningful impact on point-of-care practices, such as ordering lab tests and distributing educational information to patients.

The slides from her presentation are below: