SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) scientists are collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) and the Public Health Data Standards Consortium ( PHDSC) to further standardize the exchange and use of public health information to improve healthcare quality and coordination of care.
Controlling major outbreaks of infections such as whooping cough or tracking circulating flu strains is critical to public health. However, the lack of public health electronic reporting standards results in irregular and delayed reports that often create inconsistencies and duplication of efforts.
IBM Research is working with the CDC and PHDSC to develop a new approach to defining and delivering public health reporting by drawing insights from structured and unstructured data that currently exists in disparate systems. The scientists are creating templates for public health case reports that could work with electronic health record (EHR) systems, allowing critical information in the proper format to be easily shared among local, county, state and federal public health agencies to speed response times to public health issues.The coordination and surveillance of public health information across organizations will aid in understanding and potentially preventing the spread of health threats by automating the process and ensuring consistent access to data anywhere in the country. This technology is being piloted with public health information systems in Delaware, New York State, and San Diego County to create, validate and exchange test public health case reports originating from commercial EHR systems or health information exchanges (HIE). "The state of a national healthcare infrastructure can be vastly improved through better management of data and an improved understanding of how healthcare services are delivered," said Dr. Nikolay Lipskiy, Health IT Standards and Interoperability Lead for the CDC. "This collaboration is an opportunity to reduce disparities, improve control of infectious diseases, with the aim of building standardized electronic healthcare systems that is accountable for the health of our communities and our country." Clinicians need to report suspected or confirmed cases of infectious diseases, occupational acquired illnesses and other conditions to their local and state public health programs. This provides public health practitioners the ability to monitor and provide an appropriate response to health threats in the population. These reports are needed in addition to laboratory tests or other generated notifications as labs usually have very little clinical information.