Why is ELR Important?

Particles connected by lines intended to be a visualization of a disease multiplying with a background of a crowd people at a train station.

ELR and Outbreak Preparedness

ELR provides an essential tool in the response to outbreaks. Outbreaks can be identified more quickly and managed more effectively with quickly delivered, high-quality ELR data. This allows health departments to leverage health information systems to inform response activities.

ELR Improves Laboratory Report Data Quality

Receiving timely, accurate, complete, and consistent laboratory report data can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public health responses to outbreaks and cases of state reportable conditions. Using standardized formats promotes interoperability and improves exchange, integration, sharing and retrieval of data.

Data improvements include:

  • Faster electronic transmission
  • Increased accuracy by reduction of manual data entry errors
  • More complete reports
  • Improved consistency across various data sources

ELR Foundations Strengthen COVID-19 Laboratory Reporting

As early as 2005, CDC, in partnership with the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), began paving the way for what is now the COVID-19 Electronic Laboratory Reporting (CELR) program. In 2009, APHL created a secure, cloud-based platform to help state health departments, state laboratories, regional commercial laboratories, and federal agencies report their data. State health departments have increasingly used this platform, supported by ongoing financial and technical support from CDC, to increase the reportable disease results shared with CDC.

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated quickly accessing and disseminating electronic healthcare data, without personally identifiable information, to guide the domestic response. Previous investments CDC made into reporting systems infrastructure allowed the CELR program to quickly enable detailed data reporting from public health departments to CDC for approximately 90 percent of the COVID-19 testing volume conducted nationwide. This robust dataset informs public health decision-making to help reduce disease in communities.