CDC to build public health surveillance via EHR data

By Mary Mosquera
03:40 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) intends to identify standards and develop requirements for syndromic surveillance using clinical data from health information exchanges.

Establishing meaningful use is important for public health agencies because it creates an opportunity to identify messaging standards and the technical architecture that supports population health to be incorporated in the functionality for electronic health records (EHRs) so providers can easily share that information.

[Related: ONC adds consequences to permanent EHR certification.]

CDC seeks a vendor to come up with the standards and business process requirements that must both accommodate a variety of public health agency capabilities without impeding innovation, the agency said in the May 25 announcement in Federal Business Opportunities. Responses are due June 24, and CDC anticipates awarding a one-year contract.

Because health departments are facing severe fiscal challenges, improving public and population health through meaningful use demands business requirements that support EHR solutions that can add functionality over time, according to the notice.

Syndromic surveillance uses health data that “precedes diagnosis and signals a sufficient probability of a case or an outbreak to warrant further public health response,” CDC said.

[See also: CMS to align eRx incentives with EHR program.]

The prospective vendor will define the business processes for syndromic surveillance from inpatient and office-based patient information from an EHR; define data elements from the minimum dataset recommended for syndromic surveillance from emergency departments and pinpoint message specifications and standards, such as Health Level 7, to exchange with a state health department and CDC. 

The vendor will also describe and assess information exchange architectures that can support syndromic surveillance using clinical data and gather feedback from a multiple organizations and subject matter experts and subsequently develop guidelines to highlight opportunities to build on existing technologies.