Leveraging Medical Records for Public Health
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2005
For further information:
Children's Hospital Boston
Leah Gourley or John Lacey
Harvard Medical School
Boston Consortium Awarded CDC "Center of Excellence" Grant to Build Real-Time Disease Surveillance Systems
Children's Hospital Boston is part of a national grant to form a CDC Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics. The $4.5 million grant, one of two awarded by the CDC, will allow researchers from the Children's Hospital Informatics Program at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences Technology, the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and other Massachusetts health care organizations to build a private, secure, electronic medical records search system that gives public health officials real-time illness data.
This information will allow health officials to develop highly effective health strategies and more accurately pinpoint responses and resources.
"The idea is to build a model system that can be adopted by health systems across the country," says grant principal investigator Richard Platt, professor and chair of the Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention. "It's vital that we find ways to improve communication between the public, clinicians, and public health personnel to more quickly recognize actual and potential problems that require coordinated action. "
Co-principal investigator Kenneth Mandl, attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and affiliated faculty at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences Technology, says "the software solutions and systems that we create will be something that can be widely disseminated, readily adopted, and open to all."
"The consortium will build a confidential and secure system that will initially focus on asthma, influenza immunization in at-risk populations, and sexually transmitted diseases," says James Daniel, director of informatics for the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. "These are significant health concerns in Massachusetts that require dynamic and coordinated public health efforts."
"Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates (HVMA) is proud of its state-of-the-art electronic medical records system, and that it provides a distinctive foundation for this work," says Richard Marshall, MD, chief medical officer, HVMA. "We look forward to working with these teams to advance the care of our patients and the care of individuals throughout Massachusetts."
For the past few years, many of the investigators on this new grant have also worked to build model syndromic surveillance systems of medical records so health officials can more rapidly identify a possible biological terrorist attack. These systems are already in practice, but also in a continual state of refinement. The CDC grant will allow these investigators to extend their work to new conditions, and to focus on longstanding problems that can now be addressed by using electronic medical records, which will become more widely used during the next few years.
The center will initially focus on two projects, one dealing with clinician-public health interactions, which will be led by Platt. Platt and his team will create medical record software to allow secure communication between doctors and public health officials. Initially, they will focus on asthma and sexually transmitted diseases, but will eventually address other conditions of interest to public health officials.
The other branch of the project will work to advance patient-controlled health records and will be led by Mandl. He and his colleagues will test these electronic records as a three way communication tool among patients, clinicians and public health officials. Although it will eventually apply to a range of health conditions, the initial focus will be on improving influenza immunization rates in high-risk populations. There will be a link with a state immunization registry as part of this effort.
The grant is part of the CDC's Health Protection Research Initiative and will help grow the science base for the National Center for Public Health Informatics. The Initiative is designed to promote and protect the health of Americans by funding research that could produce science-based recommendations that could be adopted by health departments, health care professionals, employers and policy makers.
CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL BOSTON
Founded in 1869 as a 20-bed hospital, Children's Hospital Boston today is the nation's leading pediatric medical center, the largest provide of health care to Massachusetts children, and the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. In addition to 347 pediatric and adolescent inpatient beds and comprehensive outpatient programs, Children's houses the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries benefit both children and adults. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, nine members of the Institute of Medicine and 10 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. For more information about the hospital visit: http://www.childrenshospital.org.
HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
Harvard Medical School has more than 6,000 full-time faculty working in eight academic departments based at the School's Boston quadrangle or in one of 47 academic departments at 18 Harvard teaching hospitals and research institutes. Those Harvard hospitals and research institutions include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, the CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Forsyth Institute, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Joslin Diabetes Center, Judge Baker Children's Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, McLean Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and VA Boston Healthcare System.
HARVARD PILGRIM HEALTH CARE
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is a not-for-profit health care plan operating in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine with a network of more than 22,000 doctors, 130 hospitals, and more than 800,000 approximately 900,000 members. Harvard Pilgrim was the first New England health plan to establish a non-profit foundation with the sole purpose of serving the community at large. The efforts of the foundation reflect Harvard Pilgrim's mission, which is to improve the health of its members and the health of society.
HARVARD VANGUARD MEDICAL ASSOCIATES
Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates is a multispecialty physician group practice whose doctors care for over 300,000 patients in Greater Boston. A major teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, Harvard Vanguard physicians were ranked highest among Massachusetts physician groups on quality of care measures published by the Massachusetts Health Quality Partnership in 2004.