Readmissions & Demographics

Working with public health departments, Health Monitoring Systems’ staff has worked with over 700 hospitals to collect emergency department registrations and admissions data from them. The question we always strive to answer is, “What else can we do?” Public health is intrinsically data-driven, attempting to understand both health trends and events in an effort to anticipate and plan intervention to monitor and protect the community’s health.
Read more

Pool Poison: Preventable Injuries in the Thousands

With scorching temperatures right around the corner, many people will be readying their pools, which can be a surprisingly dangerous business. According to a recent study by the CDC, 4,900 people visited the emergency department for preventable pool chemical injuries in 2012. Commonly, the diagnosis of these injuries was poisoning, which would stem from things such as inhalation of vapors, fumes and gases. Fortunately, there were no deaths relating to pool chemicals at the time of the study.
Read more

Heartbleed Update

Everyone who follows the news is aware of the now-notorious Heartbleed bug, which is thought to have affected up to two-thirds of all websites. Users received notices from websites like Gmail and Pinterest advising them to change their passwords, and an estimated 39% of us actually took the step of updating our login credentials. But why was it an issue in the first place? Was EpiCenter affected?
Read more

Pilot Project: Ambulatory Care Data & Syndromic Surveillance

Although they make up only a small portion of the overall requirements, the Public Health-related set of Meaningful Use requirements has still managed to generate a considerable amount of debate and confusion. One of the primary sources of this confusion relates to ambulatory care providers and the submission of syndromic surveillance data.
Read more

Outbreak Preparedness & Ebola in Guinea

An Ebola outbreak has been brewing in West Africa since February. According to the CDC, on April 29, 2014, Guinea’s Ministry of Health reported 221 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, including 146 deaths. Of these suspected cases, 126 have been laboratory confirmed as Ebola. At the time of writing, there were 25 suspected or confirmed cases reported among healthcare workers, and that number included 16 deaths.
Read more

Whooping Cough, Measles, and Mumps, Oh My!

Childhood diseases can be a frightening topic, especially when we are seeing the re-emergence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and whooping-cough. There have been at least 129 measles cases from 13 states that have been reported in the U.S. in 2014, the highest number since 1996, according to the CDC. In recent years, many studies have sought to find a link between these re-emerging diseases and an increased prevalence of parents “opting out” of vaccinating their children.
Read more

The Affordable Care Act Goes to the Emergency Department

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been promoted with two major goals: expanding health insurance coverage and reducing healthcare costs. Part of the cost reduction is expected to be achieved through the expanded coverage. The proposal is that uninsured patients make use of the emergency department of their local hospital as a primary healthcare option more often than an insured patient with a comparable condition. The insured patient will visit a primary care physician for certain ailments because that visit will be covered. By contrast, the uninsured patient will go the emergency department knowing that they legally cannot be denied treatment because of their insurance status.
Read more

The HIE: Part 2

For 2013, healthcare spending in the United States was estimated at about $3 trillion and is projected to grow to $5 trillion by 2020.

Those numbers are mind-bogglingly large.

By comparison, the annual U.S. GDP was about $16 trillion in 2013. Healthcare represents about 18% of the total. Only China, Japan, and Germany have a national GDP greater than U.S. spending on healthcare. The U.S. is far in the lead in per capita healthcare spending as well, 30% ahead of comparable wealthy, developed nations.
Read more

Hospital Bed Capacity Tracking and Preparedness

The Affordable Care Act has brought a number of changes to the American healthcare landscape, the most well-known of which is the health insurance mandate, the result of which will theoretically increase the number of Americans with health insurance coverage. Here at Health Monitoring Systems, we are closely monitoring the effects of the ACA on emergency department utilization, but also of interest to public health is a provision regarding funding for regional systems for emergency care, including real-time tracking of hospital bed availability.
Read more

Predicting Disease with Google & Comets

Google Flu has been getting a lot of coverage lately, mostly for how it is getting the flu “wrong.” There was a Nature news item in February about Google Flu overestimating the peak of the current flu season. Not to be outdone, Science followed up a month later with an article on the forecast errors of Google Flu from the past two seasons as well as the current one. (original paper here) Also mentioned in the Nature item is the fact that Google Flu missed the initial novel H1N1 epidemic in the spring of 2009.
Read more