Health Systems Working Together: "Where Interoperability Gets Real"

Aug 23, 2011, 6:28 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

This week the Public Health Informatics Conference 2011 in Atlanta, GA focuses on a theme of "Engaging, Empowering and Evolving... Together" and in large part, "together" means that different systems need to be "interoperable," or to work together. This is no small feat when different standards and architectures proliferate. The conference features a Public Health Informatics Interoperability Showcase(TM) to demonstrate how different groups have made the concept of interoperability come alive. The Showcase includes public health-focused clinical scenarios enabled by the standards-based Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise framework, according to conference materials.

Melvin Crum, a computer scientist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented one such interoperable system that integrates food safety alerts from federal, state and local levels to provide tailored, relevant and streamlined alerts to providers at the point of care, through electronic medical records. Providers now get so many alerts Crum said, that there is a real threat of alert fatigue on a time-strapped physician.

The CDC system aggregates all of the different alerts them in one place, and drives one streamlined, tailored alert at the point of care. These alerts are tailored based on the patient's symptoms, chief complaint and demographics, and the alert is packaged with guidance on treatment and prevention. CDC also links the data to local health department managers for surveillance tracking. This is just one way to link multiple different HIT systems, and in doing so make the data more meaningful.

>> Continue to follow NewPublicHealth coverage of the Public Health Informatics 2011 conference here.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.