Advances in electronic surveillance for healthcare-associated infections in the 21st Century: a systematic review

J Hosp Infect. 2013 Jun;84(2):106-19. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2012.11.031. Epub 2013 May 4.


Background: Traditional methodologies for healthcare-associated infection (HCAI) surveillance can be resource intensive and time consuming. As a consequence, surveillance is often limited to specific organisms or conditions. Various electronic databases exist within the healthcare setting and may be utilized to perform HCAI surveillance.

Aim: To assess the utility of electronic surveillance systems for monitoring and detecting HCAI.

Methods: A systematic review of published literature on surveillance of HCAI was performed. Databases were searched for studies published between January 2000 and December 2011. Search terms were divided into infection, surveillance and data management terms, and combined using Boolean operators. Studies were included for review if they demonstrated or proposed the use of electronic systems for HCAI surveillance.

Findings: In total, 44 studies met the inclusion criteria. For the majority of studies, emphasis was on the linkage of electronic databases to provide automated methods for monitoring infections in specific clinical settings. Twenty-one studies assessed the performance of their method with traditional surveillance methodologies or a manual reference method. Where sensitivity and specificity were calculated, these varied depending on the organism or condition being surveyed and the data sources employed.

Conclusions: The implementation of electronic surveillance was found to be feasible in many settings, with several systems fully integrated into hospital information systems and routine surveillance practices. The results of this review suggest that electronic surveillance systems should be developed to maximize the efficacy of abundant electronic data sources existing within hospitals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Electronic Data Processing / methods*
  • Epidemiological Monitoring*
  • Humans