Volume of notifiable disease reporting may double with required electronic lab reporting

March 13, 2014

Public health departments nationwide are already feeling the strain from budget cuts. But their case report volumes may double when federal requirements for automated electronic laboratory reporting of notifiable diseases go into effect next year, according to a new study published in the Online Journal of Public Health Informatics. Past studies have noted that volumes increase following the introduction of electronic laboratory reporting, but this is the first to estimate what will occur with the 2015 required adoption of electronic laboratory reporting under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Meaningful Use program.

Notifiable disease reports—required for sexually transmitted diseases,  E. coli, tuberculosis, Lyme disease and other conditions—typically are submitted by hospitals and physicians' offices to state and county public health departments by fax or phone or even paper mail. Electronic laboratory reporting prevents information from falling through the cracks and improves timeliness of data transmittal.

“An increase of the magnitude we estimate will significantly impact local and state health departments' workloads as they follow up on reports, placing pressure on these departments, many of which have had budget cuts, to do more with less,” says study lead author Brian E. Dixon, MPA, PhD.

Study authors used data from the Indiana Network for Patient Care to project the national scenario. Developed by the Regenstrief Institute and operated under license by the Indiana Health Information Exchange, the Indiana Network for Patient Care electronically captures and handles several million secure transactions of clinically relevant data such as laboratory test results, medication and treatment histories daily. Read the study abstract.

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