The vision of the Digital Bridge initiative is to improve the health of our nation by enhancing information exchange between health care and public health. The Digital Bridge is bringing together key decision makers—across public health, health care and health information technology—to collaboratively work toward this vision. As its first project, the Digital Bridge collaborative has designed a multi-jurisdictional approach to electronic case reporting (eCR). eCR is a valuable tool that reduces the burden of public health reporting of infectious diseases, while improving the timeliness, accuracy and completeness of the data. Early detection of cases allows for earlier intervention, diminished transmission of disease and improved detection of outbreaks.
The approach for this project is based on public-private partnership motivated by mutually beneficial outcomes. These outcomes include improved data for public health and clinical practice and lower costs for information sharing.
Benefits to this Approach
- A unified approach to information exchange will ease the burden and costs for all stakeholder groups.
- It advances greater consistency across public health and health care interoperability cases.
- It lays the foundation for greater bidirectional exchange of data between health care and public health so that clinicians can be more easily informed and collaborate with public health during outbreaks.
- Bidirectional data exchange can eventually encompass non-communicable diseases.
Governance and Workgroups
A governance body formed this fall, with equal representation from public health, health care delivery systems and health information technology. Workgroups focus on specific issues and report up to the governance body. These workgroups are seeking input from existing eCR and other health data interoperability efforts.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports the governance of the Digital Bridge and Dr. John Lumpkin chairs the initial governance body. Deloitte Consulting and the Public Health Informatics Institute provide program support.
Representatives from each sector have made these commitments to the Digital Bridge initiative:
- Public health agreed to “speak with one voice”: public health programs should standardize on an electronic case report and not pursue different approaches based on individual diseases or jurisdictions.
- The health care delivery systems agreed to be initial production sites for the implementation efforts.
- The health IT vendors agreed to collaborate and build technical infrastructure for the transmission of electronic case reporting.
eCR Implementation Sites
Beginning in the spring of 2017, the Digital Bridge will coordinate eCR implementations at sites across several different states and cities. The sites will be used to test the technical specifications and to demonstrate the viability of eCR for public health and health care.