Public Heath Departments’ Workloads Could Double Under Stage 2
March 12, 2014 in News
Local public health departments’ workloads could double over the next year because of meaningful use Stage 2 reporting requirements, according to a study published in the Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, Health Data Management reports.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 3/10). Stage 2 of the meaningful use program requires public health departments to submit automated electronic laboratory reports of notifiable diseases, such as:
- E. coli;
- Lyme disease;
- Sexually transmitted Infections;
- Tuberculosis; and
- Other conditions.
For the study, researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing used data from the Indiana Network for Patient Care, which electronically collects and handles millions of secure clinical data transactions. The data include patients’:
- Laboratory results;
- Medication histories; and
- Treatment histories.
Although past studies have noted that electronic laboratory reporting increases work volume, researchers said the study is the first to predict what will occur under the Stage 2 requirements (Leventhal, Healthcare Informatics, 3/10).
In a statement, Brian Dixon — Regenstrief Institute investigator and assistant professor of health informatics and the study’s lead author — said, “An increase of the magnitude we estimate will significantly impact local and state health departments’ workloads as they follow up on reports, placing pressure on these departments, many of which have had budget cuts, to do more with less.”
In order to accommodate the predicted increases, Dixon recommended that public health officials work with health care informatics experts to:
- Bolster the public health infrastructure; and
- Develop and evaluate ways to help health departments.
He concluded, “[P]ublic health concerns are growing, and we will likely need greater support from various levels of government” (Health Data Management, 3/10).