The electronic exchange of health information could play a key role in contributing to improvements in U.S. public health emergency preparedness, according to a recent report by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Modern Healthcare reports (Barr, Modern Healthcare, 12/14).
Shortfalls in Emergency Preparedness
The report found that funding cuts to state health programs enacted during the recession are weakening recent progress in public health emergency preparedness. The report also found that U.S. emergency preparedness programs face gaps in:
- Capacity for managing a surge in patients;
- Funding and infrastructure;
- Identifying and serving the most vulnerable residents;
- Maintaining a sufficient supply of public health workers; and
- Researching and developing vaccines and medications (Millman, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/14).
Data Exchange as Critical Area for Improvement
The report cited the electronic exchange of health information as a key area for improvement in public health preparedness.
Researchers found that:
- Seven state health departments are incapable of transmitting electronic health information to health care providers and community health centers; and
- 10 state health departments lack an electronic syndromic surveillance system to report and exchange data that precede certain diagnoses (Modern Healthcare, 12/14).