On August 20-23, 2018 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) sponsored the now-biennial Public Health Informatics Conference in Atlanta, GA. Nearly 1,000 public health informatics professionals, vendors, and other stakeholders came together to discuss and learn from each other about new and emerging trends in informatics practice, successful (and less than successful) projects and strategies, and new or existing products to help in their work. The conference exhibit space included a mini-Interoperability Showcase co-sponsored by HIMSS that demonstrated ten interoperability use cases relevant to public health and their data partners in the clinical community.
In many ways it was same old, same old: The usual talk about Meaningful Use, CDC’s new data management strategy du jour, standards development and use. It felt like there was greater interest in international efforts where CDC has a fairly strong influence and a high level of involvement. There were also some great posters focusing on a wide variety of epidemiological studies and data management projects.
But the real buzz seemed to be about electronic case reporting (eCR). This refers to the national effort to replace the current paper and FAX process of submitting reportable conditions from clinical care sites to state and local public health agencies with a more automated electronic process fed from EHRs. This project is being guided by a public-private partnership called Digital Bridge. A critical component of this project is the development and deployment of a central decision support service to which clinical care sites send a C-CDA document for a patient to determine if there is a reportable condition contained in the patient’s data, and if so, how and to whom the reporting should be done. HLN is developing this service (called the Reportable Conditions Knowledge Management System, or RCKMS), and related software for public health agencies to use to manage their reporting rules, with funding from CDC facilitated and managed by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE). When completed, RCKMS will be released to the Open Source community.
We demonstrated the workflow for eCR at HIMSS18 Interoperability Showcase, but it seemed like few attendees were particularly interested and we had very little traffic at the booth. At PHI2018 we had significant interest, both among public health officials who were anxious to see how they could initiate eCR in their jurisdictions, and other vendor and stakeholder groups who seemed to feel eCR was becoming viable and more “real.” The first pilot sites will be coming “live” on eCR in the coming months, and the real measure will be the interest that we might see among the clinical care and vendor communities during the Interoperability Showcase at HIMSS19 in Orlando.
In addition to hosting an exhibit booth, HLN staff had several presentations at the conference, including:
- Understanding RCKMS as an eCR Tool [with CDC and CSTE]
- Case Study for Cloud Computing Solutions in Public Health
- A Collaborative Approach to Supporting Information System Migration Projects [with AIRA, CDC & PHII]
- Clinical Decision Support for Immunizations as a Community-drive, Standards-based Activity [with CDC and NYC]
- The Changing Face of Interoperability and its Impact on Public Health
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