08 April 2013

Developing EHR Standards, Improving Public Health: SDC Initiative

Since the inception of electronic health records (EHRs) both developers and users have struggled with balancing EHRs’ ability to gather and provide information with their lack of interoperability. EHRs are effective tools for clinicians who want easy access to health information from patient visits, but at present they have inefficiencies that decrease their usefulness for public health. More specifically, public health would benefit from a template that delivered all EHR information in a consistent manner, with consistent data elements (i.e., patient visit information). Standardization is especially important to data quality as Meaningful Use policies continue to expand the volume of data available to public health.

Structured data has the ability to increase public health’s ability to use, analyze, and disseminate information on events of public health interest or concern. In order to capitalize on this potential, the S&I Framework started the Structured Data Capture (SDC) Initiative in January 2013. Through engaging stakeholders and consulting experts, this initiative aims to develop standards for storing data which could then be passed on to public health within standardized templates. The SDC Initiative specifically aims to create standards for four types of reports: electronic case report form; incident report; surveillance case report; and the collection of patient information used for Determination of Coverage.

The development of these standards is community-driven and open to anyone with interest. The SDC Initiative engages stakeholders in a variety of ways, from weekly meetings to presentations from experts working on data standardization in both research and practice. Development of these standards is participatory and committed members of the initiative can vote on project materials.   

Currently, the initiative is working on finalizing a variety of use cases. Once this step is complete, guidance documents for standards will be created and pilot projects instituted. There is still substantial opportunity for interested ISDS community members to contribute to this project before it wraps up in August 2013. 

The next open teleconference is scheduled for Thursday, April 11, 3:30-5 pm EDT.

For more information on the S&I Framework’s Structured Data Capture Initiative, or to get involved as a member, please visit: http://wiki.siframework.org/Structured+Data+Capture+Charter+and+Members

Written by: Becky Zwickl, MPH, Policy Analyst, ISDS

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