Easy Check Off

We were discussing meaningful use in the office today and hit upon the perfect description for what hospitals want to hear from public health.  “Easy Check Off”  They want a quick win, a clear victory, a slam dunk.  How can we make that happen?

Here are some initial thoughts on what can be done.

First, they need to cut through any confusion.  Public health should work with the hospital association and let healthcare providers know what their strategy is for syndromic surveillance, laboratory reporting, and immunization registries.  This can be a little tricky since some data collection programs are run by state health departments and others by county health departments.  Outlining how this works clearly, in a letter to each healthcare organization can go a long way.

The next obvious issue they will need to address is, “What work do I have to do on my part?”  I can’t answer for other systems, but for the EpiCenter system this is pretty straightforward.  They need to contact Health Monitoring Systems, implement a standard HL7 feed (or file transfer) over a secure connection (VPN most likely) and the process is done.  Anecdotally, this can take as little as four hours.

We like to cite the time we visited a facility in northwest Ohio.  The morning meeting went very well.  By the time we were back in our Pittsburgh office the facility’s IT staff had contacted us and were ready to test.

Finally, the last question is going to be, “How do I know I will get credit for this?”  That applies to current organizations providing data as well as ones looking at the possibility.  I recommend that either public health (or the vendor) supply a letter to the facility indicating that they are “in compliance” or “actively sending data” or “successfully sent a test message”.  This provides the hospital documentation that show they are in compliance.