Supplementing tuberculosis surveillance with automated data from health maintenance organizations

Emerg Infect Dis. 1999 Nov-Dec;5(6):779-87. doi: 10.3201/eid0506.9906.


Data collected by health maintenance organizations (HMOs), which provide care for an increasing number of persons with tuberculosis (TB), may be used to complement traditional TB surveillance. We evaluated the ability of HMO-based surveillance to contribute to overall TB reporting through the use of routinely collected automated data for approximately 350,000 HMO members. During approximately 1.5 million person-years, 45 incident cases were identified in either HMO or public health department records. Eight (18%) confirmed cases had not been identified by the public health department. The most useful screening criterion (sensitivity of 89% and predictive value positive of 30%) was dispensing of two or more TB drugs. Pharmacy dispensing information routinely collected by many HMOs appears to be a useful adjunct to traditional TB surveillance, particularly for identifying cases without positive microbiologic results that may be missed by traditional public health surveillance methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Health Maintenance Organizations*
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized*
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology


  • Antitubercular Agents