State Public Health Department Enhancing Disease Reporting With HIE Data

Date: September 30th, 2015Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Public Health Reporting


The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment is using data from CORHIO to complete important disease reporting.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is now conducting more efficient and thorough disease investigations, and generating accurate reports, thanks to information available from the CORHIO network.

CDPHE does very important work for Coloradans – including helping to improve the quality of our drinking water, food, and even our air. One of the divisions working hard at CDPHE to help our state is the disease control division. They track cases of communicable diseases, cancer, foodborne illness and more – and are now using the CORHIO PatientCare 360® web portal to help with this tracking and reporting.

The information needed for CDPHE disease investigations comes from disparate sources like individual physician offices, hospitals, laboratories – and via different methods like electronic records, phone calls, faxes and mail. Now that the investigators are on the CORHIO network, they have a single access point to look up patient information to fill in gaps in their reporting. “Before, we got the information from a patchwork of chart reviews, remote EHR access, phone calls, letters, and faxes,” says Paul Gillenwater, Integrated Disease Reporting Program Manager, CDPHE. “CORHIO definitely has saved both time and effort.”

“Two major groups at CDPHE are now using PatientCare 360 for their investigation – the Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology Division and the Colorado Central Cancer Registry,” says Chris Wells, Public Health IT Director, CDPHE. “Records come in to us and they aren’t always perfect, so now we’re able to get into CORHIO,supplement that data, and get better information.

Colorado Central Cancer Registry

Since the early 1970s, public health officials have been tracking cancer cases in the United States to identify patterns, calculate survival rates, allocate resources, and more. Locally, the Colorado Central Cancer Registry at CDPHE is tasked with this reporting. Their investigators include patient history, treatment, and outcomes in their reporting and often have to track down missing information sent in to the registry.

“We’re using PatientCare 360 to augment case reports from other sources. For example, a report from a pathology lab frequently lacks demographic information such as address and/or race. We’ve been able to find this information quite frequently in CORHIO,” says Randi Rycroft, Unit Manager, Colorado Central Cancer Registry. “We typically have to send letters back to physician offices to obtain the additional or missing information. PatientCare 360 has definitely reduced our need to send those letters. As ambulatory practices increase their reporting into the HIE, our need to send our inquiry letters will be dramatically reduced.”

The data in CORHIO is already having an effect on overall completeness and accuracy for future reporting, as CDPHE is uncovering some unreported cases in the system. “On a few occasions, we have even found cases that should have been reported by a hospital because we noticed evidence of cancer treatment,” says Rycroft. “In that situation, we can contact the hospital to let them know about the missed case and ask for the required case report.”

Communicable Disease Reporting  

Communicable diseases such as West Nile virus, avian influenza, rabies and hepatitis must be reported to the state health department. In Colorado, there are several conditions that require reporting from laboratories, hospitals, and physicians.

“Reporting for some conditions requires us to assess symptoms in addition to positive lab testing to confirm the suspected diagnosis,” says Gillenwater. “PatientCare 360 has proven to be a great resource for accessing symptom information, additional lab results, treatment information, identifying comorbidities, and establishing a timeline beginning with initial complaint until the department is notified.”

“PatientCare 360 is a game changer in disease control. We are just beginning to realize the impact this system is going to have on our role in keeping Coloradans safe from communicable diseases,” he says. “So far the system has been extremely useful and we are excited about it becoming even more comprehensive as data from primary care offices is integrated.”