Public Health Reporting, Data Sharing Nearly Ubiquitous in Hospitals

Acute care hospitals saw a significant increase in public health reporting in 2022, with 96 percent actively participating, particularly in immunization, syndromic surveillance, and lab results reporting.

Public health reporting by acute care hospitals has seen significant improvement, reaching a 96 percent participation rate in 2022. This is an increase from the previous year, according to the 2022 American Hospital Association (AHA) Information Technology published by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT. 

Starting in 2022, hospitals in the CMS Promoting Interoperability Program began electronically submitting data to health agencies, expanding beyond the COVID-19 pandemic requirements. This progression, seen in the 2022 nationwide survey, reflects increased digital health reporting since 2021. 

The findings showed that the highest reporting rates were for immunization registry and syndromic surveillance. Specifically, syndromic surveillance reporting rates were at 86 percent, electronic lab result reporting was at 85 percent, and immunization registry reporting was at 90 percent. 

The findings also revealed that nearly 47 percent of hospitals actively submitted production data for electronic case reporting.  

Moreover, more than half of the surveyed hospitals reported electronically to clinical data registries. At the same time, 63 percent reported their involvement with public health registries in 2022, representing significant growth compared to the previous year. 

Data submission through the EHR was the most prevalent method for public health reporting, followed by health information exchange (HIE) organizations. 

HIE organizations, as the second most prevalent method, had usage ranging from 14 percent of hospitals for clinical data registry reporting to 19 percent for immunization registry and syndromic surveillance reporting. 

However, despite improvements, reporting rates remained lowest for electronic case reporting, which was recently made a requirement. Hospitals have historically needed more incentive to develop electronic case reporting capacities due to the ability to meet public health reporting requirements through other means, ONC mentioned. 

“Cost-related challenges and reports of onboarding processes for electronic reporting being too cumbersome were also reported by more than a quarter of hospitals for at least one type of reporting. While not all public health reporting challenges were common, reported challenges tended to occur consistently across reporting types,” ONC wrote in the data brief. 

Moreover, three-quarters of hospitals reported experiencing challenges with public health reporting in 2022. The most common issues were the limited capacity of public health agencies to receive electronic information and the technical complexity of electronic reporting, which were reported by 50 and 39 percent of hospitals. 

To address these problems, programs like the CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative and the Health IT Certification Program aim to improve information exchange and promote data standardization.  

“Efforts to promote data standardization through the Health IT Certification Program can help mitigate reporting challenges related to the use of different vocabulary standards and difficulties extracting relevant information from EHRs. Standardization can also help support automated reporting of health information for public health purposes,” ONC stated. 

ONC is also working on advancing public health data exchange and interoperability standards, which is crucial for better communication between healthcare providers and public health agencies. 

“USCDI+, an initiative aimed at identifying and establishing public health-specific datasets that will operate as extensions to the existing United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) standard (7). Building on this groundwork, ONC’s Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) initiative will help further advance interoperability for healthcare providers, hospitals, and PHAs by providing the infrastructure for more seamless nationwide health information exchange,” the data brief stated. 

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