Electronic Laboratory Reporting and the Public Health Workforce

Mar 13, 2014 | NacchoVoice

By Roland Gamache, PhD, MBA, Senior Director, Informatics, NACCHO

An informative article in this month’s Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, “Estimating Increased Electronic Laboratory Reporting Volumes for Meaningful Use: Implications for the Public Health Workforce,” shows the value electronic laboratory results reporting can bring to the public’s health. The article also describes how electronic reporting can capture the large portion of communicable disease cases that go unreported to better contain the spread of those diseases, confirming the efforts of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the impact of Meaningful Use activities towards achieving these goals.

More complete reporting through Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR) allows better prioritization of case investigation by public health, with increased focus on high priority/high impact diseases that pose the greatest threat to a community. This information allows health departments to investigate these events more rapidly and more efficiently, therefore preventing disease. According to Joseph Gibson, PhD, a co-author of this paper, “Without ELR, public health has been like a physician who only gets half of the test results ordered to determine how to treat a patient.”

Public health departments can better protect their community’s health because this information will provide public health practitioners with a more complete picture of the unmet need in the community. This level of information will allow agencies to prioritize their resources more efficiently and effectively.

ELR makes the act of understanding the disease burden in the community more efficient while requiring less time for hospitals and labs to provide information to public health departments.

Additional lab reports are an important part of case investigations. More complete case reporting creates a better picture of actual diseases circulating in a community. An influx in lab reports or more thorough case reports do not hinder case investigations, but strengthens them because they create a better picture of actual diseases that are circulating in the community, and also allows for a larger data bank that can be used for future public health studies.

Nor does ELR increase the amount of disease in a community; it just provides more information about the notifiable diseases. The resources needed by public health required to respond to these diseases are just better understood because this information is reported more often to health departments. If we do not have a clear picture of what is going on in the community, how can public health departments do their job and protect the community?

The National Association of County and City Health Officials and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials have documented the resource constraints in health departments as highlighted in the article. However, health departments are working with local, state and federal partners to build capacity so they can capitalize on the type of data flow that is envisioned in the scenarios described by this article.

Similarly, ELR has increased efficiency for lab reporting, helping to ensure that electronic case submissions can increase efficiency. Case reports submitted by clinicians with complete information will reduce the burden on public health.

In summary, ELR will improve the health status of the community by allowing health departments to more effectively and efficiently deploy its resources to improve their investigations about the spread of disease in their jurisdictions.

The views expressed within do not necessarily represent those of the sponsor.


About NacchoVoice

More posts by NacchoVoice

Related Posts

Mentorship illustration
  • Funding Opportunity
  • Injury and Violence Prevention
  • Leadership
  • Opioid Overdose Epidemic

RFP: Reducing Overdose through Community Approaches...

NACCHO is seeking consultants to develop and facilitate one or more workshop...

Nov 30, 2022 | Camille Adams

RFP: Reducing Overdose through Community Approaches...

Clear Field Guide web
  • Tools & Resources
  • Emergency Response

New Field Guide for Emergency Preparedness

A new cross-sector field guide on disaster and emergency preparedness is now...

Nov 29, 2022 | Jessica Pryor

New Field Guide for Emergency Preparedness

Improvement

Three U.S. Health Departments Awarded in the VIRA...

NACCHO has announced the first three winners of the VIRA X NACCHO competition....

Nov 28, 2022 | NacchoVoice

Three U.S. Health Departments Awarded in the VIRA...

Mental Health
  • Press Release

NACCHO Research: Harassment Targeting Local Public...

New analysis shows local public health workers who experienced harassment...

Nov 23, 2022 | NacchoVoice

NACCHO Research: Harassment Targeting Local Public...

I Stock 1262600344
  • Tools & Resources
  • Webinar
  • Community Health Assessment and Improvement Planning
  • Community Engagement

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships...

NACCHO is pleased to launch the three revised assessments of Mobilizing for...

Nov 22, 2022 | Andrea Grenadier

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships...

  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis

Apply Today: Rapid Start Jurisdiction Learning Community

Ryan White-funded jurisdictions are invited to join a small group of similarly...

Nov 22, 2022 | Julia Zigman

Apply Today: Rapid Start Jurisdiction Learning Community

NHSN Blog
  • Tools & Resources
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • Epidemiology
  • Infectious Disease

What is NHSN and How Can LHDs Better Utilize This...

CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) is the nation’s tracking and...

Nov 21, 2022 | Jaclyn Abramson

What is NHSN and How Can LHDs Better Utilize This...

PHTYD Social Media

Thank You NACCHO Members, Volunteers, and the Entire...

Thank You NACCHO Members, Volunteers, and the Entire Public Health Workforce!

Nov 21, 2022 | NacchoVoice

Thank You NACCHO Members, Volunteers, and the Entire...

Rural America
  • Tools & Resources
  • Rural Health

New Rural Emergency Preparedness and Response Toolkit

New Rural Emergency Preparedness and Response Toolkit now available.

Nov 18, 2022 | Beth Hess

New Rural Emergency Preparedness and Response Toolkit

Back to Top