Meaningful Use Readiness

Local Public Health Agencies’ Meaningful Use Readiness and Use of Health Information Technology SystemsGrant Amount: $75,486
Recipient: Georgia Southern University Research and Service Foundation, Inc.

Updating and streamlining public health information systems for use in promoting eHealth is a highly time-sensitive need. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) hold the potential to present public health practitioners with significant additional information about the populations they serve. Further, public health information systems can contribute to supporting the adoption of “meaningful use” and other standards that aim to help clinicians improve outcomes. Data from EHRs could also aid in real-time detection of outbreaks and epidemics, more accurate estimates of health and behavioral outcomes at the local level, and the ability to efficiently and effectively target public health interventions. There are significant challenges facing public health agencies and providers due to lack of interoperability of the health information systems. However, the scope, scale, and prevalence of these challenges are not well-characterized nationally at the local health department (LHD) level. The challenges associated with public health information systems and “meaningful use” uptake can be more efficiently addressed if the nature and gravity of the problems are formally gauged and the interest level of providers to use those systems is fully understood.

With funding from the de Beaumont Foundation, this project seeks to characterize local health departments’ use of information technologies to: 1) assess the pattern of LHDs’ utilization of Electronic Health Records, Health Information Exchange, and other health information systems such as immunization registry, electronic disease reporting systems, and the electronic lab reporting. And, 2) investigate perceived philosophical, legal, cultural and infrastructural barriers to engaging electronic systems and participation in meaningful use of electronic health records. The project will also characterize how LHDs that have implemented EHR use have done so, as well as benefits and burdens gained from the process.