The agreement calls for Fairfield, CT.-based GE Healthcare’s Medical Quality Improvement Consortium to provide a report to the CDC every 24 hours from its database of 14 million electronic medical records. The company says the reports will enable the center to monitor the spread of both the H1N1 influenza virus (commonly referred to as Swine Flu) and seasonal influenza strains.
Mark Dente, the chief medical informatics officer for GE Healthcare, told MassDevice that the deal was the first of its kind for both the CDC and GE and is an example of how EMRs could make a profound difference in identifying and containing an outbreak.
“This was the first time the CDC has even had this type of potential to gather this data, so they kind of said, ‘Let’s give it a shot,'” Dente said. The deal began with a conversation between himself and a colleague at the CDC back in April, when the first reports of H1N1 began to widely circulate around the globe.
“This is a way to do bio-surveillance,” Dente explained, adding that the company hopes to be able to provide future services to the CDC to help track Salmonella outbreaks and other public health crises.
“This could be a very big deal,” he said.
GE was chosen because it had the widest EMR net to cast and could provide the analytics and infrastructure support to make the project viable as a real-time monitor, Dente added.
The consortium collates data physicians enter into their offices’ EMR systems when seeing patients. The CDC will then track reports of flu-like symptoms, including fever, nausea, chills, prescriptions written and actions taken.
The base of operations for the project will be GE’s facility in Burlington, Vt., and Boston, according to Dente.