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Electronic health records help fight vaccine-preventable diseases, Columbia Nursing study finds
Date:7/18/2013

Using an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system to automate the immunization data shared between health providers and public health agencies enables physicians to assist individual patients faster and more effectively, while also providing more immediate, cohesive community data to the agencies tasked with promoting public health.

Those are the findings of a new study conducted by researchers from Columbia University School of Nursing and partner institutions. The researchers also found that automated reporting reduced the lag time historically associated with data submitted on vaccinations and, in some cases, reduced the paperwork and staff time traditionally devoted to managing these required submissions. In short, a robust records automation program increased knowledge about both individuals and communities, allowing medical and public health officials at all levels to make more informed decisions.

"The efficiency offered by automation has significant implications for managing public health, whether it is by informing a local physician on the health of an individual or informing policymakers on health trends within a whole community," said lead researcher and CU Nursing professor Jacqueline Merrill, RN, MPH, DNSc. "For example, EHRs greatly enhance our ability to help at-risk populations for whom up-to-date immunizations are critical, such as children, immunosuppressed individuals, or the chronically ill. Before automated registries, reporting was less structured and data submittal was less consistent."

Currently, health officials in the U.S. recommend that the public be immunized against 17 vaccine-preventable diseases. However, tracking vaccinations is difficult, especially among underserved populations whose care is often managed by multiple providers. Various state and local health agencies set up immunization registries to consolidate scattered patient records and thus reduce unnecessary vaccinations; however, registries
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Contact: Rachel Zuckerman
rz2274@columbia.edu
212-305-4092
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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