Last week, IBM announced that it is collaborating with CDC and the Public Health Data Standards Consortium to standardize the electronic exchange and reporting of public health data, eWeek reports (Horowitz, eWeek, 8/17).
Issues the Project Aims To Address
Controlling major outbreaks of infections like whooping cough is essential to public health, according to Healthcare IT News (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 8/16).
However, the current lack of electronic public health reporting standards can lead to delayed or irregular reports. Such problems can result in inconsistencies and duplicative efforts when agencies are working to track or control outbreaks (Roney, Becker's Hospital Review, 8/16).
How the Project Would Work
Scientists from IBM Research are working with public health officials to develop templates for public health case reports that would be compatible with electronic health record systems.
Such templates would allow critical public health data to be shared easily and quickly among local, county, state and federal health agencies.
Public health agencies in Delaware, New York State and San Diego County, Calif., currently are testing the use and exchange of public health case reports that originate from EHRs or health information exchanges.
Compatibility With Meaningful Use Program
IBM officials said the new data standards would align with the meaningful use program's requirements. Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments.
According to IBM officials, the data standards potentially could lower health care providers' cost of complying with the meaningful use requirements (Healthcare IT News, 8/16).