Surveillance Strategy Report — How Sharing Data Digitally Benefits Health

How sharing data digitally benefits health. Bridging public health and health care

Bridging Public Health and Health Care

Eighty-five percent of all health data is now electronic. With the proliferation of disease outbreaks and the need for fast access to patient healthcare data, bridging the electronic exchange of information between public health and health care is essential for timely, accurate, and accessible disease surveillance.

Electronic Case Reporting

Improving how data flows between public health and health care using health information technology is critical to making health data more useful. Electronic case reporting is the automated sharing of critical health information between electronic health records and public health agencies for review and action. The Digital Bridge—an exciting new partnership in which CDC is collaborating—is addressing this.

“Health care, public health and electronic health record vendors are working together to build a system that makes reporting easier for clinicians while enabling public health to respond more effectively.”

John R. Lumpkin, MD, MPH
Senior Vice President–Program,
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Why It Matters

Notifiable disease data are critical to:

blue and white globe

Hospitals and doctors use electronic information to make well-coordinated decisions to improve population health

blue microorganisms

State public health departments vary in their data reporting requirements, presenting a challenge for health care


New technology is addressing the gap through a decision tool that automatically sends needed case data to public health Study disease to strengthen the science

Icon of a Blue First Aid Kit

This allows for better and quicker exchange of data between public health and health care, prompting earlier disease detection and intervention

Putting Data to Work: Connecting Data for Action

Much can be gained by improving the use and exchange of electronic health record (EHR) data to enhance individual health and take public health action when needed. The Digital Bridge partnership is making it easier to extract data from EHRs to unite health care and public health. The first initiative—electronic case reporting—is being tested at seven sites in California, Houston, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York City, and Utah. The first five reportable conditions being shared are chlamydia, gonorrhea, pertussis, Salmonella, and the Zika virus.

As part of CDC’s strategy to improve surveillance data, the Digital Bridge partnership is expediting the flow of disease surveillance information and associated outcomes



Electronic case reporting reduces the burden of infectious disease reporting and enables a more cost-effective information exchange between health care and public health


Automated mandatory reporting of certain diseases and conditions from EHRs results in faster information from surveillance and improved response times
light bulb


Any EHR vendor can adopt this electronic case reporting solution that results in less work for healthcare professionals at the point of care


Working to standardize tools and reporting between public health and health care improves data flow, benefitting both individual and population health

Moving the Dial: Modernized System, Improved Timeliness

~87 Percent

Percent of office-based physicians
using any electronic medical record/EHR
system in 2016

42 Members

Number of governance members,
including CDC, driving the
Digital Bridge

7 Sites

Number of public health departments implementing the Digital Bridge approach to electronic case reporting in 2018

Bridging Public Health and Health Care: Better Exchange, Better Data

Hillard Weinstock, MD, MPH

Notifiable disease surveillance from health departments helps the CDC understand disease burden and trends.

Keywords: emerging technology, quality data