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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cloud-Based Influenza Surveillance System in Emergency Departments Using Molecular-Based Testing: Advances and Challenges


Introduction: Electronic influenza surveillance systems aid in health surveillance and clinical decisionmaking within the emergency department (ED). While major advances have been made in integrating clinical decision-making tools within the electronic health record (EHR), tools for sharing surveillance data are often piecemeal, with the need for data downloads and manual uploads to shared servers, delaying time from data acquisition to end-user. Real-time surveillance can help both clinicians and public health professionals recognize circulating influenza earlier in the season and provide ongoing situational awareness.

Methods: We created a prototype, cloud-based, real-time reporting system in two large, academically affiliated EDs that streamed continuous data on a web-based dashboard within hours of specimen collection during the influenza season. Data included influenza test results (positive or negative) coupled with test date, test instrument geolocation, and basic patient demographics. The system provided immediate reporting to frontline clinicians and to local, state, and federal health department partners.

Results: We describe the process, infrastructure requirements, and challenges of developing and implementing the prototype system. Key process-related requirements for system development included merging data from the molecular test (GeneXpert) with the hospitals’ EHRs, securing data, authorizing/ authenticating users, and providing permissions for data access refining visualizations for end-users.

Conclusion: In this case study, we effectively integrated multiple data systems at four distinct hospital EDs, relaying data in near real time to hospital-based staff and local and national public health entities, to provide laboratory-confirmed influenza test results during the 2014-2015 influenza season. Future innovations need to focus on integrating the dashboard within the EHR and clinical decision tools.

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