CDC urges Electronic Lab Reporting

Sept. 27, 2013

In yesterday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the adoption of Electronic Laboratory Reporting  by labs that send data to state and local health agencies is helping to improve disease outbreak response. The CDC is urging labs to adopt ELR. Here is a press release from the CDC:

“Once labs detect dangerous infections, it’s crucial for the correct information to get to health departments quickly and in a format that allows them to recognize disease outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) efforts to speed this process and ensure that the best and most complete information about disease cases is reported is paying off, according to new data released in the September 26, 2013 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

A key to speeding lab reports is widespread adoption of electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) by the approximately 10,400 labs that send reportable data to health agencies. ELR is an important tool that gives health officials vital information on infectious disease cases. Since 2010, CDC has provided funds to help 57 states, local and territorial health departments increase the use of electronic laboratory reporting (ELR).

The MMWR report shows that the number of state and local health departments receiving electronic reports from laboratories has more than doubled since 2005, when CDC last evaluated ELR reporting. In the past year, the number of individual reports received electronically increased by 15%. States and local health departments now estimate that nearly two-thirds (62%) of total lab reports were received electronically. The number of reports received through ELR varied by jurisdiction, the types of labs reporting and by disease reported.

“Infectious disease outbreaks will always be with us—and rapid recognition of an outbreak saves lives,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Thanks to electronic laboratory reporting (ELR), we’re detecting outbreaks faster than ever. Unfortunately, only a quarter of the 10,000 labs across the country use ELR. We must keep expanding use of ELR to help CDC and our partners save lives and reduce healthcare costs.”