SOURCE: Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)

Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)

May 16, 2012 15:17 ET

Houston's Laboratory Launches Leading-Edge Electronic Reporting System

SILVER SPRING, MD--(Marketwire - May 16, 2012) - The Bureau of Laboratory Services, Epidemiology and IT of the Houston Department of Health and Human Services has successfully made the switch from a paper-based to an electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) system. The new system will expedite reporting of notifiable diseases and medical conditions, such as HIV, hepatitis and meningococcal disease.

Houston's new ELR system relies upon an ELR 251 Implementable profile developed by a working group sponsored by the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL). Representatives from state public health laboratories and public health departments in Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Utah and Virginia, and local public health laboratories in Houston and Philadelphia collaborated to develop the profile.

APHL's ELR 251 Implementable profile recently was endorsed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology as compliant with meaningful use standards. The term "meaningful use" indicates that the profile meets requirements for implementation of electronic patient health records established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"The endorsement of the APHL profile will save cash-strapped health agencies from incurring significant expenditures for customization of message formats," said Seth Foldy, MD, MPH, FAAFP, senior advisor for public health informatics and practice in the Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Health agencies can now receive data on reportable medical conditions from partners across the US in a format that meets requirements under ARRA."

In addition to the Houston laboratory, the APHL's ELR 251 Implementable profile has been adopted by other jurisdictions including the states of Arizona, Iowa, Michigan and Rhode Island and the city of Philadelphia. Several additional jurisdictions are in the process of adopting the profile.

APHL has initiated the process of registration of the ELR 251 Implementable profile with Health Level Seven International (HL7). Once registration is complete, the profile will be available for download to all HL7 members.

The Houston Department of Health is one of the few large-city, high-volume agencies to meet the Meaningful Use Stage 1 criterion. The Bureau of Laboratory Services, Epidemiology and IT has assumed sole responsibility for executing the ELR 251 Implementable profile.

The Laboratory Technical Implementation Assistance for Public Health project is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 1U50HK000105 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Association of Public Health Laboratories is a national nonprofit located in Silver Spring, MD, that is dedicated to working with members to strengthen governmental laboratories with a public health mandate. By promoting effective programs and public policy, APHL strives to provide public health laboratories with the resources and infrastructure needed to protect the health of US residents and to prevent and control disease globally.

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