Lab Matters Fall 2017 - Page 26

informatics Building a Digital Bridge by Rachel Shepherd, associate specialist, Informatics In an immense collaboration between public health entities, systems vendors, public health agencies and healthcare providers, APHL has joined a national effort to develop a systematic, widespread and sustainable approach to using national electronic health record data to improve public health surveillance. This “Digital Bridge” requires coordination from all facets of public health, with the ultimate goal of revolutionizing the way healthcare providers and public health jurisdictions communicate. A Solid Foundation Currently, when someone visits their healthcare provider and displays signs of a notifiable condition—pertussis, for instance—the provider must report the suspected case to the health department, where that data is tracked for outbreak prevention. This reporting process is done manually through a series of forms filled out and submitted by the provider. Through electronic case reporting, the Digital Bridge intends to convert this type of one-directional report into an automated and multifaceted bi-directional dialogue. To start, systems vendors are working with healthcare providers to enhance infrastructure so that when a physician updates a patient’s chart, their electronic health rec