Making Rapid Data Exchange a Reality

Effective public health action depends on accessible and accurate data. CDC programs and healthcare professionals use data from electronic health records (EHR) to detect disease, contain outbreaks, and respond to public health emergencies. Without rapid access to this critical data, health professionals can face challenges developing the strategies needed to eliminate disease and improve public health.

The Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services’ (CSELS) Public Health Informatics Office (PHIO) is addressing this challenge with its Making EHR Data More Available for Research and Public Health (MedMorph) project. MedMorph facilitates the timely access, transfer, and use of EHR data by:

  • Bringing together existing standards
  • Providing a model that programs may leverage for public health data needs
  • Saving time, effort, cost by reducing burden of data exchange

Goal: Better Data and Improved Efficiency

The goal of MedMorph is to create a reliable and adaptable method for EHR data exchange to reduce burden, time and effort so programs can get faster to data informed action. MedMorph is working toward this goal by developing multiple public health and research scenarios (use cases). MedMorph provides a new resource, the reference architecture implementation guide, which addresses data exchange needs with a common, streamlined approach. The reference architecture acts as a blueprint for use case scenarios and outlines how to use best practices to be more efficient in data exchange efforts.

The MedMorph reference architecture was developed with input from a technical expert panel, a diverse group of partners with subject matter expertise in health IT and various use cases. The contributions to the reference architecture helped build flexibility in the framework, allowing it to fit different program needs.

The reference architecture was vetted through the trusted international standards development organization, HL7®, to help ensure it meets health IT industry standards and best practices for data exchange. This is important for making patient care safer and clinical research more effective. The MedMorph project also leverages events like Connectathons to test and improve the reference architecture.

MedMorph in Action

MedMorph is an example of CDC’s commitment to data modernization. MedMorph began with three initial use cases, representing infectious (Hepatitis C) and non-communicable (Cancer) diseases and non-disease specific data collection (Health Care Surveys). The Hepatitis C use case uses the electronic case reporting architecture; a current pilot that uses the eCR Now FHIR® application will assess for real-world impact. MedMorph is expanding its reference architecture implementation guide use to other disease and non-disease areas.

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