What You Should Know:
– As chronic disease rates rise across the U.S., researchers are exploring how electronic health records (EHRs) can be used to improve public health surveillance and intervention efforts. While 90% of healthcare providers in the U.S. utilize EHRs, sharing this data with public health departments is currently limited due to legal, political, and organizational barriers.
– A new study from the Regenstrief Institute provides practical guidance for implementing governance frameworks that enable data sharing for chronic disease surveillance, drawing on the experience of the Multi-State EHR-Based Network for Disease Surveillance.
Leveraging EHR data for chronic disease surveillance offers several advantages:
– Real-time data: Unlike traditional surveys, which have a two-year lag, EHR data provides immediate insights into disease incidence and prevalence.
– Clinical accuracy: Data is based on clinical observations and diagnoses rather than self-reported information.
– Targeted interventions: By identifying specific populations and geographic areas with high disease burdens, public health departments can tailor interventions and resource allocation.
The study highlights key challenges and solutions for data sharing:
– Building trust: Robust governance policies and procedures are essential to establishing trust between healthcare systems and public health agencies.
– Data aggregation: Health information exchanges and other data sharing platforms are needed to facilitate the secure exchange of EHR data.
– Legal and policy considerations: Addressing privacy concerns and ensuring compliance with data regulations is crucial.
The Multi-State EHR-Based Network for Disease Surveillance demonstrates the potential of this approach. The network’s transparent governance framework, which emphasizes accountability, collaboration, and data security, has fostered trust and facilitated successful data exchange.
The study concludes that implementing effective governance frameworks is key to unlocking the potential of EHR data for chronic disease surveillance. This will require collaboration among policymakers, public health leaders, and healthcare providers to create a sustainable and ethical approach to data sharing.