CDC health safety network promises more updated information
■ The new electronic system will replace manual data entry, which often lags in information and is burdensome for health care organizations.
Physicians and others soon will have an easier way to send data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network. Ease of reporting will mean more timely and accurate updates to a variety of data that can give physicians a read on several health care quality and safety measures in their communities, hospitals and facilities.
The CDC is deploying its Direct Project’s messaging platform to allow data to be reported with a virtual click of a button within an electronic health record system rather than the more timely and cumbersome task of running reports then manually entering the data to a separate portal for transmission.
The Direct Project’s messaging protocols are a set of standards built into health IT systems, such as electronic health records, that allow the direct exchange of information between two disparate systems that have the protocols.
Instead of generating a data file, saving it to a local hard drive, logging in to the NHSN website then manually entering it, the person entering the data can click a button within an EHR or other health IT system that would create a message with the data report and automatically send it to the NHSN, said Barry Rhodes, PhD, team leader for development in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the CDC. After the data are sent, the sender will get an emailed confirmation that they were received.
“Most definitely it will reduce the burden on health care workers, because now they are using data that is already electronic, that’s preexisting in electronic health record systems, so it’s going to cut down on this manual data entry burden,” Rhodes said. It also will ensure data quality, because mistakes are often made with manual data entry, he added.
More than 11,000 facilities report to the NHSN, both on a volunteer basis and as a tie-in with state reporting mandates. Some data reported to the NHSN is required for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services performance payments. Few physician practices participate in the NHSN, with the exception of outpatient surgery centers and dialysis centers, as most of the data sets are for inpatient quality measures such as infection rates.
Even though few physician practices contribute data to the NHSN, many are interested in seeing things such as infection rate data for various surgeries and central line insertions to better understand what is going on in their communities and hospitals, Rhodes said.
Other areas of the CDC to which more physician practices may report data — including its BioSense program, launched in 2003 to detect and assess bioterrorism-related outbreaks — also are implementing the Direct Project protocols.
Rhodes said building a reporting system based on the use of Direct Project is not easy because a whole national infrastructure needs to be built. But it is being built in concert with meaningful use requirements, he said.
Under the meaningful use incentive program, aimed at building a more connected health care system, physicians can earn up to $44,000 over five years from Medicare, or up to $63,750 over six years from Medicaid, for the meaningful use of EHR systems. Some systems may have Direct Project capabilities already, but that will be a requirement under stage 2 requirements of the program. Practices can talk to their vendors about having their EHR systems upgraded to support Direct Project capabilities.
At the time of the Direct Project launch, Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health information technology in the Dept. of Health and Human Services, said the public-private collaboration that resulted in the development of the Direct Project was an amazing accomplishment “that meets the real-life needs of providers” to securely send and receive information.
The CDC closed the request for quotes period for the project on Sept. 12. It is now reviewing the quotes and plans to award a contract and conduct pilot studies during the next few months. Rhodes expects the system to be up and running in 2013.