Objectives. Despite national support for electronic laboratory reporting (ELR), the transition from paper to electronic reporting has been slow both nationally and locally. We assessed the ELR experience of New York City’s surveillance programs to identify barriers to ELR implementation and generalizable lessons about automated electronic notifiable disease surveillance.
Electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) potentially can improve the timeliness of notifiable disease case reporting and subsequent disease control activities (), but the extent of this improvement and the resulting effects on the workload of state or local surveillance teams are unknown. To estimate those effects, investigators from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) evaluated the timeliness of reporting for four notifiable diseases of varying incubation periods: salmonellosis, shigellosis, meningococcal disease, and hepatitis A. Investigators then calculated the potential improvement expected with ELR using the assumption that ELR can reduce to 1 day the time from completion of a diagnostic laboratory test to notification of the county health department (CHD) of the result. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which showed that ELR would reduce the total time from symptom onset to CHD notification of a case by nearly half for salmonellosis (from 12 days to 7 days) and shigellosis (from 10 days to 6 days), but would produce no change for meningococcal disease (4 days) and minimal improvement for hepatitis A (from 13 days to 10 days). In Florida, the benefits of ELR for reporting timeliness likely will vary by disease.
Syndromic Surveillance & Electronic Lab Reporting
* Electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) generally refers to the secure, automated messaging of laboratory reports, using HL7 or other formats, sent using one or more electronic communication protocols. Direct Web entry (the manual entering of reports over the Internet by laboratories but not through electronic messaging) is included in this report as ELR because it does not require manual data entry by public health agencies into a surveillance information system or into an ELR repository.