Informatics for Healthcare Epidemiology

  • Bala Hota


A major effort in healthcare epidemiology is the surveillance of healthcare associated infections (HAIs). Increasingly, HAIs are viewed as preventable and as a marker of healthcare quality. The automation of the surveillance of HAIs could have several benefits: for institutions, it could allow infection control programs to focus on the prevention, not simply the measurement, of infection. For policy makers, automation could provide better and more timely information on the epidemiology of infections within institutions and permit comparisons between institutions. For clinicians, automated surveillance could permit better understanding of and feedback on processes of care within institutions, and allow for decision support systems to prevent processes that promote HAIs. However, significant barriers exist in the development of an information technology infrastructure that supports automated infection surveillance. Technical barriers include semantic heterogeneity between local data stores as well as the lack of consensus and adoption of standards of data transmission. Non-technical barriers are the incomplete diffusion of the electronic medical record to all sites as well as a shortage of true “success” stories in which the use of information technology enhanced the quality of care. Once built, an infrastructure that supports electronic laboratory reporting or health information exchange can provide epidemiologic information on emerging problems or healthcare epidemiology with little excess marginal cost.


Health Information Exchange National Nosocomial Infection Surveillance Laboratory Information System Clinical Document Architecture Computerize Provider Order Entry 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bala Hota
    • 1
  1. 1.Rush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA

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