Digital Bridge collaboration with Cerner, Epic, CDC and others hope to connect EHRs to public health

The aim is to streamline interoperability between private systems and IT public health agencies for disease monitoring and outbreak response.
By Bernie Monegain
08:49 AM
connect EHRs to public health

Digital Bridge, a collaboration among healthcare, public health and health information technology organizations, works on the premise that improving information sharing can improve the nation’s health.

To that end, the collaborative has designed an approach to electronic case reporting, or eCR, that is being rolled out in states and cities across the country. The goal is for eCR to improve public health surveillance of infectious diseases, which in turn would lessen the burden on providers for meeting public health reporting requirements.

Digital Bridge is intended to promote partnerships that improve data for public health and clinical practices and also lower costs for information sharing. As such, the effort entails streamlining interoperability between EHR systems and the IT systems public health agencies use to monitor disease trends and respond to outbreaks, said Jim Jellison, Director of Practice Support at the Public Health Informatics Institute. “Our current focus is on automating the public health reporting process for infectious diseases.” 

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One of the barriers to eCR, Jellison said, is the fact that infectious disease reporting is regulated at state and local jurisdictional levels, which means case reporting criteria can vary from state to state making it difficult for providers and IT developers that operate across state boundaries.

There is good news on this score, however. Public health stakeholders are harmonizing case reporting data requirements on a new HL7 standard for eCR and building a decision support platform that mitigates the variation in state reporting requirements, Jellison said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Association of Public Health Laboratories, and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists have led the development of these tools. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Deloitte and the de Beaumont Foundation are funders. 

Health IT vendors Cerner, Epic, and NetSmart are beginning to implement them now in collaboration with their clients. Allscripts, Meditech and eClinicalWorks also participate in the Digital Bridge and are helping develop an eCR approach that can be adopted nationwide.

Jim Jellison and Jeff Livesay will be speaking in the session, “Population Health Information Exchange Over a Digital Bridge,” at 1 p.m. March 8 in the Venetian, Delfino 4002.

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Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
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