This year, the Ebola pandemic, including cases in the United States, drew national attention to the importance of health data sharing—across all venues of care and points of admission. In fact, in his State of the Union remarks last night, President Obama briefly addressed the Ebola crisis, pointing to the need for “a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics.” Health surveillance technology is a critical part of this prevention effort, enabling health agencies to track, predict and ultimately prevent the spread of infectious disease.
This year, response to a potential U.S.-based Ebola outbreak illuminated many strengths and weaknesses broadly in our health system. Cerner was able to respond to the threat of Ebola in early October and began communicating to its clients immediately with key recommendations and measures, ensuring that clinicians were prepared.
At times of heightened risk for infectious disease transmission, Cerner proactively communicates with its clients to ensure that all potential cases are communicated broadly. When Ebola arrived in the U.S., the company released instructions on how to activate infectious disease screening and advised clients of recommended EHR workflow configurations to provide key care providers the most critical information available.
Cerner continues to research and develop early-warning solutions to help health officials identify and predict transmission patterns of infectious diseases and potential health emergencies. One tool in particular that Cerner has developed toward that goal is HealthSentry, a solution used by the CDC in 2009 during the H1N1 outbreak, which aggregates data from a population’s health centers and delivers alerts to help inform health officials on optimal responses to outbreaks.
In response to the threat of Ebola, Cerner was able to depend on systems and techniques already in place, relying on its information sharing tools and reaffirming its commitment to communication through critical healthcare technologies. As we work to combat infectious disease at home and abroad, health surveillance tools like Cerner’s are helping providers and public health agencies around the world respond more effectively to potential health crises and do their best to keep populations as healthy and safe as possible.