Tracking H1N1: Near Real-time Electronic Records Provide Daily National Surveillance Reports
|This colorized negative stained transmission electron micrograph depicted some of the ultrastructural morphology of the A/CA/4/09 swine flu virus. Courtesy of CDC|
Every 24 hours, information gathered from a nationwide electronic database of nearly 14 million patient records is reported to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitor the spread of the H1N1 virus in near real-time. GE Healthcare’s Medical Quality Improvement Consortium (MQIC) repository is providing extensive daily surveillance data to the CDC for H1N1 and seasonal influenza activity throughout the United States.
Participating physician offices and clinics automatically contribute de-identified data each day through normal use of the Centricity electronic medical record (EMR) system when they document information collected during patient visits. Growing at a rate of nearly 30 percent each year, the MQIC database is a repository designed with HIPAA-compliance parameters of anonymous clinical data and best practices. In peer-reviewed studies, the database has been validated as representative of demographic and co-morbidity averages in the U.S. population.
MQIC collates clinical data documented by primary-care physicians, giving the CDC tools to help track clinical symptoms such as fever, nausea and chills, prescriptions written and vaccination rates, as well as variables such as procedures performed, pregnancy and patient age, within 24 hours of being documented in thousands of participating doctors’ offices across the country.
“We are pleased to help the CDC monitor this important public health issue,” said GE Healthcare IT Vice President and General Manager Jim Corrigan. “This is a strong example of the power of digitizing the nation’s medical records. With EMR data, not only are we able to accelerate the reporting of any aggregate changes to the health of the U.S. population, we’re able to provide valuable and timely clinical data to health professionals.”
According to the CDC’s Office of Program Grant Officials, the CDC selected the MQIC database for its built-in reporting capabilities. The resulting information helps the CDC to better understand the characteristics of H1N1 outbreaks and to determine who is at highest risk for developing complications from the virus. Traditionally, this data has been collected using insurance claims data, a process with a significant lag time.
“Using MQIC, the GE Centricity EMR’s H1N1 surveillance reports communicate clinical findings at an early point of detection, as many patients with milder flu symptoms will visit their primary care provider instead of a hospital,” said Peter Basch, Internist with MedStar Health, Washington, DC, and program participant. “The data passed along by doctors is a clinically-accurate representation of H1N1-related symptoms and trends, which enables CDC researchers to track hotspots as the flu season evolves and quickly communicate that information to healthcare providers to improve awareness and response for better clinical outcomes.”