Characterization of public health alerts and their suitability for alerting in electronic health record systems.

Citation:

Garrett NY, Mishra N, Nichols B, Staes CJ, Akin C, Safran C. Characterization of public health alerts and their suitability for alerting in electronic health record systems. J Public Health Manag Pract 2011;17(1):77-83.

Date Published:

2011 Jan-Feb

Abstract:

Public health agencies including federal, state, and local governments routinely send out public health advisories and alerts via e-mail and text messages to health care providers to increase awareness of public health events and situations. Agencies must ensure that practitioners have timely and accessible information at the critical point-of-care. Electronic health record (EHR) systems have the potential to alert physicians of emerging health conditions deemed important for public health at the most critical time of need. To understand how public health agencies can leverage existing alerting mechanisms in EHR systems, it is important to understand characteristics of public health alerts to determine their suitability for alerting in EHR systems. Authors conducted a review and analysis of public health alerts for a 3-year period to identify critical data attributes necessary to support public health alerting in EHR systems. The alerts were restricted to those most relevant for clinical care. The results showed that there is an opportunity for disseminating actionable information to clinical practitioners at the point of care to guide care and reporting. Public health alerts in EHR systems can be useful in reporting, recommending specific tests, as well as suggesting secondary prevention.