Interoperability Solution Automates the Burdensome Manual Process of Reporting Diseases to Public Health Agencies
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting patients and overburdened healthcare providers across the globe, Surescripts has emerged as a critical interoperability solution bridging the digital gap between healthcare providers and public health agencies. Surescripts Clinical Direct Messaging service helps enable the fast, safe and secure transmission of Electronic Case Reporting (eCR), the automated generation and transmission of case reports to the public health agency's disease surveillance system for review and action.
eCR is a collaborative effort of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These organizations each play key roles in leading, implementing, and operating eCR with healthcare organizations, EHR vendors, and public health agencies.
“Improving how data flows between health care and public health using state-of-the-art health information technology is critical to making health data more useful,” said Laura Conn, M.P.H., Health Scientist and eCR Lead for CDC. “With the proliferation of outbreaks and the need for fast access to patient health data, bridging the electronic exchange of information between public health and health care is essential. eCR provides fast, accurate, and reliable data for action.”
As of June 29, 2020, 21 healthcare organizations were in production with the service and more than 715,000 reportable electronic initial case reports (eICRs) had been delivered to 43 jurisdictions. An additional 18 healthcare organizations are in the process of implementing the technology and 54 of 58 public health jurisdictions are connected to APHL for eCR.
“COVID-19 has shone a bright light on our need to maximize the use of standards-based interoperability tools,” said Steven Lane, M.D., M.P.H, Clinical Informatics Director, Privacy, Information Security & Interoperability for Sutter Health. “It’s important to provide critical interoperability services that deliver eCR between providers and public health agencies for COVID-19. As one of the original eCR pilots, we were able to go live in about three days and hope to advance eCR as a nationwide approach to case reporting.”
“In the world of public health, diseases often move faster than data,” said Patina Zarcone-Gagne, director of informatics at APHL. “eCR automates the submission of case reports from healthcare providers, reducing the burden of meeting the legal requirement to report while improving the timeliness, accuracy and completeness of data for public health action.”
“A trusted nationwide health information network has never been more critical than it is today, as the entire healthcare system is focused on combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tom Skelton, CEO of Surescripts. “We’ve been delivering true interoperability and enabling seamless information sharing for nearly 20 years, but the pandemic has brought this need into sharp focus. We are proud to play a critical role in enabling and automating safe and secure communications between healthcare providers and public health agencies during a critical time for patients nationwide.”
Built using the Direct protocol and integrated in EHR and pharmacy software, Surescripts Clinical Direct Messaging connects clinicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals with secure, HIPAA-compliant exchange of protected health information. Hundreds of thousands of users rely on Clinical Direct Messaging to improve transitions of care, send immunization notifications, coordinate medication management efforts and achieve Meaningful Use/Promoting Interoperability incentives requiring the use of secure electronic messaging.