Healthcare-associated Infections

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Improving Your Access to Electronic Health Records During Outbreaks of Healthcare-associated Infections

A TOOLKIT FOR HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

The purpose of this toolkit is to help professionals working in local, state, and territorial health departments have better access to the electronic health record (EHR) systems in healthcare facilities (e.g. hospitals, outpatient clinics, surgical centers, etc.) during outbreaks, including outbreaks of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

Public health and healthcare share a common goal of preventing, detecting, and controlling diseases, but they have different critical roles. Public health agencies have the responsibility to communicate with relevant authorities and stakeholders, including healthcare facilities, to ensure an appropriate and rapid response during outbreak situations with complete transparency. Interactions between public health officials and healthcare facilities are essential for protecting and improving the health of patients during any outbreak, including an HAI outbreak.

Outbreak investigations help public health and healthcare better understand the cause of the outbreak, get a clear clinical picture of patients who are or who may be affected (actual and potential cases), and stop the spread of the disease so that fewer people get sick or die.

When healthcare facilities provide public health professionals with timely access to their EHRs, they help ensure that case determinations and the outbreak investigation proceeds most efficiently. Additionally, since EHRs are used by more than 60 percent of hospitals and office based physicians, and these numbers are expected to grow, it is critical for public health and healthcare professionals to have proactive conversations about how access to EHRs can occur and how they can work together to protect and improve the health of patients.

Currently, electronic health information is not standardized and interoperability is not universal. As a result, we know that EHR access differs depending on the type of EHR system or software used. Many public health departments still rely on a combination of types of information exchanges including onsite computer access, remote access, paper printouts, and faxed and email copies to get needed patient health information.

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Tools for Health Departments

Build and Sustain Good Relationships with Healthcare Facilities Before, During and After HAI Outbreaks
Build and Sustain Good Relationships with Healthcare Facilities Before, During, and After Outbreaks

A look at the ways public health professionals have built and maintained relationships to facilitate their access to and use of EHRs during HAI outbreaks.

Address Patient Privacy, Authority, and Security Concerns
Address Patient Privacy, Authority, and Security Concerns

Examples of how public health professionals have addressed security and privacy concerns during HAI outbreaks.



Best Practices for Access and Use of EHRs
Best Practices for Access and Use of EHRs

Public health professionals share best practices, examples, and barriers related to accessing and using EHRs during HAI outbreaks.



Evolving National Efforts and Resources to Improve Information Exchange
Evolving National Efforts and Resources to Improve Information Exchange

Resources for public health professionals regarding national efforts to support information exchange.


Methodology

Interviews with public health professionals and meetings with stakeholders were used to better understand experiences and gather examples about access to and use of EHRs during HAI outbreaks. View the methodology »

Glossary of Key Terms

A list of key terms used in this toolkit with accompanying definitions. View the glossary »