How EHRs Can Help Fight the Measles Outbreak

Federal health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that the measles outbreak has now grown to more than 700 cases this year alone.

More significantly, those 704 reported cases in 22 states mark the highest total number of measles cases in a single year since 1994—an incredible 25-year high.

The flare in measles outbreaks may surprise some who recall when at the turn of the century the CDC declared that measles were all but eliminated following a national immunization program requiring kids to get vaccinated before starting kindergarten. In a recent statement, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar calls the measles vaccines a “safe and highly effective public health solution,” not to mention “among the most extensively studied medical products we have.”

In an interview with Modern Healthcare, Azar says the biggest factor driving the surge in measles outbreaks relates to pockets of unvaccinated communities, including parents who have opted to forgo vaccinating their kids in recent years. In fact, according to the CDC, six of the 13 outbreaks occurred in communities where vaccination rates were less than the 90 to 95 percent rate needed to maintain herd immunity.  Azar also declares that “vaccine-preventable diseases belong in history books, not emergency rooms.”

Fight Measles with EHRs

The national surge in measles offers a timely reminder of the importance of not only getting vaccinated, but also in ensuring patient records are complete and accurate. The capture and complete input of patient information is critical in how effective your electronic health record (EHR) system can be in times of an outbreak.

For instance, according to a recent report from Reuters, New York-city based Langone Health was successful treating patients in Rockland County and Brooklyn, two of the outbreak’s epicenters. To help identify patients who were unvaccinated and potentially infected, the hospital added a measles alert within their EHR. Once triggered, a physician or nurse would be notified via the patient’s EHR and zip code if they lived in an outbreak area. The alert would then prompt discussions about appropriate safety measures, vaccination statuses, and more.

The above scenario is one example that underscores the importance of investing in an intuitive EHR that can help prevent further outbreaks, empower informed decision-making, enable secure document management, and drive clinical excellence.

It also highlights how important it is for providers to be able to easily document vaccination data, which is one reason why we have built this functionality into our EHR system. MEDHOST’s state-of-the-art EHR can also communicate with state registries to pull information about where patients received vaccines, whether from their general practitioner, local pharmacy, or walk-in clinic.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities can also use a “rules editor” to create decision support recommendations to remind providers to check a patient’s immunization status or even to administer a vaccine. Reducing redundancy and improving efficiency for providers, the EHR provides a forecast that notifies clinicians when patient immunizations are due too.

Regardless of the outbreak or crisis in question, the right EHR solution can be a game-changer for providers and patients.

Learn more about how our EHR can enable seamless clinical documentation and help manage outbreaks. Email us at inquiries@medhost.com or call 1.800.383.6278 to speak with one of our specialists.

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