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Am J Public Health. 2014 Mar;104(3):e16-21. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301753. Epub 2014 Jan 16.

Government leadership in addressing public health priorities: strides and delays in electronic laboratory reporting in the United States.

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Rebecca Tave Gluskin and Maushumi Mavinkurve are with the Division of Informatics, Information Technology, and Telecommunications, and Jay K. Varma is with the Division of Disease Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY.


For nearly a decade, interest groups, from politicians to economists to physicians, have touted digitization of the nation's health information. One frequently mentioned benefit is the transmission of information electronically from laboratories to public health personnel, allowing them to rapidly analyze and act on these data. Switching from paper to electronic laboratory reports (ELRs) was thought to solve many public health surveillance issues, including workload, accuracy, and timeliness. However, barriers remain for both laboratories and public health agencies to realize the full benefits of ELRs. The New York City experience highlights several successes and challenges of electronic reporting and is supported by peer-reviewed literature. Lessons learned from ELR systems will benefit efforts to standardize electronic medical records reporting to health departments.

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