Making EHR Data More Available for Research and Public Health

Imagine the progress public health professionals and researchers can make if electronic health records (EHR) seamlessly flowed from one source to another. Imagine if the solution for the flow of data was based on standards. The possibilities would be endless. There would be less burden on data providers and senders, and relevant data would be accessible to all. Interventions could be more precise and gaps in care could be eliminated.

CDC, in partnership with an external technical expert panel, is taking steps to modernize critical information technology that allows for better sharing, receiving, and use of data. CDC is working to build and connect the digital public health data superhighway, which will facilitate the seamless and timely flow of EHR data.

Goal: Better Data and Reduced Burden

Monitoring disease and making decisions about public health threats depends on accessible and accurate data. EHRs are a data source with potential to provide timely and relevant data beyond its use by health care providers. EHR data, if made more available for public health professionals and researchers, can lead to new innovations and more rapid disease detection.

The goal of MedMorph is to create a reliable, scalable, and interoperable method to get electronic health record data for multiple public health and research scenarios (use cases). The development of a reference architecture and demonstrated implementation will reduce the burden on healthcare providers and help provide the standards and methods to receive and send data from EHRs for a variety of public health and research purposes.

MedMorph in Action

Three MedMorph use cases offer the project an opportunity to look at EHR data exchange from different perspectives and to better inform the technology solution needed. The use cases represent infectious (Hepatitis C) and non-communicable (Cancer) diseases, and non-disease specific data collection (Health Care Surveys).

Hepatitis C

Designed to help close the gap between the public health promise of EHR data and their current, and currently limited, application within the context of hepatitis C.


Aims to improve cancer surveillance by augmenting current reporting processes with transmission of cancer case information from EHRs to central cancer registries.

Health Care Surveys

Aims to automate the reporting of health care utilization data from EHRs to CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Each use case includes dedicated subject matter experts collaboratively sharing insights and solving their EHR data challenges through workgroup interaction. Beyond the three use cases, several additional CDC programs are participating as part of a technical expert panel, as are federal partners and a variety of external partners. The MedMorph effort and the technical expert panel are helping to solve real data exchange challenges.

The MedMorph project is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (PCORTFexternal icon) via the Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

To Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about the MedMorph project, connect with us.

Page last reviewed: June 11, 2020