Uses of electronic health records for public health surveillance to advance public health

Annu Rev Public Health. 2015 Mar 18:36:345-59. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031914-122747. Epub 2015 Jan 2.


Public health surveillance conducted by health departments in the United States has improved in completeness and timeliness owing to electronic laboratory reporting. However, the collection of detailed clinical information about reported cases, which is necessary to confirm the diagnosis, to understand transmission, or to determine disease-related risk factors, is still heavily dependent on manual processes. The increasing prevalence and functionality of electronic health record (EHR) systems in the United States present important opportunities to advance public health surveillance. EHR data have the potential to further increase the breadth, detail, timeliness, and completeness of public health surveillance and thereby provide better data to guide public health interventions. EHRs also provide a unique opportunity to expand the role and vision of current surveillance efforts and to help bridge the gap between public health practice and clinical medicine.

Keywords: electronic health records; meaningful user; public health surveillance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Public Health / methods*
  • Public Health Administration / methods
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / epidemiology
  • United States