Monthly Archives: February 2013

Health IT at the 2013 Public Health Preparedness Summit

preparedness summit logo

People are always asking, “What is informatics and how does informatics affect me?” or “What does informatics mean to my everyday job?”  At the 2013 Public Health Preparedness Summit, there will be some great examples of how emergency preparedness is supported by innovative technology and is informed by good informatics.  In other words – not just what technology to use, but how to put this technology to good meaningful use.

A number of these sessions will focus on social media, messaging during a disaster, and new tools to reach out to different populations. These presentations highlight how critical informatics has become in preparing for and recovering from disasters.

Some of these sessions are below:

  • Dispense Assist: Online Screening Tool for Mass Dispensing and Vaccination -Implementation/Training Workshop:  This workshop will introduce you to Dispense Assist (DA) a free, online screening tool for mass dispensing and vaccination available for use by any interested jurisdiction.
  • Emergency Messaging for the Electronic Age: This workshop will explore the explosion of social media and how it has changed the way in which those in the public health field must look at risk communication and information sharing, especially in times of emergency.
  • Video-Savvy Crisis Response Workshop: Using YouTube, Skype and uStream for Effective Communication in an Emergency: You’ll learn how to use YouTube, Skype, and UStream to communicate effectively during a crisis using tools you may already have.
  • Innovations in Public Health Emergency Alerting and Notification: Presentations will address the impact of the public health capabilities on emergency alerting and information sharing practices, including the Epidemic Information Exchange and Health Alert Network programs.
  • FluCare: A Mobile Texting Service to Support Antiviral Medication Use during an Influenza Pandemic: This session will highlight the development of a mobile texting service to provide medication information and support for people who are prescribed antivirals during an influenza pandemic.
  • Cell Phone Mapping and Disaster Mental Health Preparedness Planning in Under-Resourced Black Communities: Presenters will discuss cell phone GPS software and computer-based mapping platforms that will allow community groups to easily collect data to inform planning activities. This offers an opportunity to address the digital divide and build resilience in under-resourced black communities.
  • Utilization of Mobile Health (mHealth), Social Media and Emerging Technologies for Public Health and Disaster Preparedness-Lessons Learned and Policy Implications: This sharing session will cover how mobile health, social media, and other emerging technologies offer an opportunity to improve disaster preparedness. The research presented during this session aims to identify notable practices at local health departments in using these platforms for preparedness efforts, identifying barriers to use, and assessing how to increase uptake of these methods. 
  • Effective Use of Social Media in Public Health: Promoting a Practice Exchange in Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Response: This session will explore how an online compendium of preparedness tools from across the country and a social marketing campaign created an interactive disaster preparedness community for state and local planners.
  • Prototype Tool for Analyzing Email Traffic in Public Health Emergency Operations Centers: This session will solicit input from participants on a prototype tool that CDC and Lockheed Martin have developed to analyze and visualize email traffic within an emergency response center.

We hope that you will join us at this year’s Summit to learn more about the role of ePublic Health & Informatics in emergency preparedness. Are you on Twitter? Follow @prepsummit for the latest information and use the hashtag #phps13 to follow the online conversation. To see what other sessions will be offered at the Summit and to register, please visit

Getting ready for Stage 2 MU PH Reporting Requirements by the Meaningful Use Public Health Task Force

The Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU) “Final Rules” published in the Federal Register on September 4, 2012, required local and state Public Health Agencies (PHAs) to ramp-up their MU capabilities and establish new processes to receive the relevant MU-compliant public health data from eligible providers, prior to the start of Stage 2 MU (10/01/2013 for EHs and 01/01/2014 for EPs). In Stage 2 MU, the capability to submit electronic data for immunizations is in the core or mandatory set for Eligible Professionals (EPs) and the capability to submit electronic data for immunizations, reportable laboratory results, and syndromic surveillance is in the core set for Eligible Hospitals (EHs). In addition, two new public health objectives for EPs have been added to the menu or options set – the capability to report cancer cases to a cancer registry and specific cases to a specialized registry (e.g., birth defects registries, chronic disease registries, traumatic injury registries). PHAs preparing for Stage 2 MU will require guidance to implement the new objectives and processes, such as:

  • Contributing their PHA’s MU capacity information to the proposed Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) centralized PHA capacity repository (declaration process),
  • Supporting providers (EPs and EHs) for registration of their intent to submit data for a MU objective,
  • On-boarding and accepting ongoing data submission from providers; and,
  • Providing an acknowledgement or a written communication (which may be in electronic format) from the PHA confirming a provider’s registration and achievement of ongoing submission.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has facilitated the establishment of the Stage 2 MU Public Health Reporting Requirements Task Force with representatives from the public health community; including: NACCHO, ASTHO, JPHIT, ISDS, CSTE, PHII, NAACCR, State PHAs, AIRA, ONC, CDC, and others. This task force is currently working to frame deliverables that will identify key concepts, task flows and guidance for PHAs to implement the Public Health objectives and associated new business processes required for Stage 2 MU. The task force has already provided recommendations and requirements to CMS for the establishment of the centralized PHA capacity repository which will provide EPs and EHs information on jurisdictional capacity to accept electronic data for Stage 2 MU public health objectives. The task force is developing guidance for PHAs to facilitate the registration of intent by providers, on-boarding and ongoing submission, and the ability to provide acknowledgements to providers. The task force is also developing guidance related to transport protocols for the electronic submission of meaningful use data to PHAs. The task force has created a specialized registry work group to provide guidance on how public health agencies can leverage the specialized registry meaningful use objective to obtain case information on mandated public health reporting information such as birth defects, traumatic injuries, hearing and vision and other public health surveillance information.

The consensus guidance and recommendations developed by this collaborative Public Health task force, currently scheduled to be available by April 2013, will be shared widely with state and local PHAs. PHAs across the nation will be able to adopt this guidance according to their jurisdictional needs to implement the new objectives and processes required for Stage 2 MU. For more information on this task force please visit, and if interested in providing meaningful contributions to this work, please email