Providers to Benefit From Streamlined Public Health Reporting Through HIE

Date: January 11th, 2012Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, Public Health Reporting

San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center is Piloting Public Health Reporting Enabling More Complete & Timely Reporting of Diseases

Colorado hospitals are required by the state to report certain diseases (primarily communicable diseases) and conditions identified by their laboratories to state and/or local public health departments to help monitor disease incidence and contain disease outbreaks. This allows health officials to have a more complete understanding of the state’s health picture and respond quickly in public health emergencies.

Hospitals typically rely on time-intensive manual reporting processes that can lead to data being incomplete and delayed. With information supplied by HIE stakeholders, CORHIO estimates that hospital staff may spend three to four hours a week on reportable condition reporting.

To help alleviate that burden, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and CORHIO have collaborated to streamline disease reporting for hospitals by implementing automated, electronic lab reporting (ELR) of “reportable conditions,” for diseases such as salmonella and pneumococcal infection.

CORHIO is building a direct interface to CDPHE that will automate the reporting process for hospitals which are already implementing the HIE. Currently, reports are submitted to the CDPHE in various formats, including online entry into a Web-based disease reporting system or via fax. ELR will minimize the need for staff to manually enter and submit paper reports, streamlining public health reporting and greatly reducing hospital lab reporting burden.

“Electronic lab reporting through HIE is a win-win situation for hospitals and public health,” said Dr. Ken Gershman, Chief of the Communicable Disease Epidemiology Program and director of the ELR initiative at CDPHE.

Based on a CDPHE survey of four Denver hospitals, CORHIO estimates that ELR could help save hospitals over $9,000 in staff time per year by reducing the tracking and manual reporting of lab results. Reporting lab messages to public health via CORHIO will also assist hospitals in meeting anticipated Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides some funding to help early adapting hospitals to offset the costs of transitioning to reporting via the HIE.

San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center (SLVRMC), the largest medical facility in the San Luis Valley, is piloting CORHIO’s new ELR feature. “Automated ELR of reportable conditions results in information being delivered to the state health department more quickly and efficiently,” said Dr. Gregory McAuliffe, SLVRMC chief medical officer. “By expediting this process, we can enhance population health by quickly communicating with public health about potential disease outbreaks."

SLVRMC Program Director Jamie Colwell adds, “Lab technologists are universally very conscientious, analytical thinkers. They pride themselves for being accurate and precise in a world of increasingly burdensome regulations. They are expected to have a high test throughput with minimal turnaround time. With all of this to consider, having one less thing to worry about, such as gathering patient demographics and results for phoning and faxing, is always appreciated.”

By mid-2012, CORHIO and CDPHE expect to move out of the pilot phase, working with every hospital connected to the HIE to benefit from this new functionality. In the future, this service will be standard with all HIE implementations.