Public health agencies across the country continue to face new challenges, from surveilling chronic and infectious diseases such as Ebola and Zika, to managing the anticipated “silver tsunami” of aging baby boomers that will occur within the next few years. In addition, health agencies now find themselves fighting the resurgence of infectious diseases due to an increase in unvaccinated children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of reported measles cases in 2019 surpassed the previous record in 1992. More than 75 percent of the reported cases were linked to areas within New York state and were spread through groups of people who remain unvaccinated.
Measles, a highly contagious virus that lives in mucus in the nose and throat, can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Additionally, the virus can remain live for approximately two hours in the airspace where the coughing and sneezing occurred. If left untreated, people may experience pneumonia, seizures, and encephalitis, as well as other health issues. When there is an outbreak of this size and scope, it is imperative for state and local public health officials to quickly gather data in an effort to report, evaluate, and monitor information to help form a national perspective. When necessary, public health departments must rapidly respond to outbreak investigations by request of the state health department.
Electronic case reporting (eCR) is the automated generation and electronic submission of reportable diseases and conditions from an electronic health record (EHR) to public health agencies. Each state has public health reporting requirements and relies on healthcare providers to report on certain conditions. Although the increased adoption and implementation of EHRs has dramatically improved the ability of providers to report conditions electronically, paper-based manual reporting remains pervasive.