The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been providing resources from the Prevention and Public Health Fund of the Affordable Care Act to 57 state, local, and territorial health departments since 2010, in an effort to assist with putting electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) systems into place. As of July 2014, 67% of about 20 million laboratory reports received annually for notifiable conditions were received electronically, compared with 62% in July 2013. The electronic reports came from 3,269 of 10,600 laboratories and were received by 55 of 57 health departments. That’s up from 2,900 laboratories that sent electronic reports in July 2013.
“National implementation of ELR continues to progress steadily, as evidenced by increases in both the number of laboratories using ELR and the proportion of reports being sent via ELR,” according to the CDC’s “Update on Progress in Electronic Reporting of Laboratory Results to Public Health Agencies—United States, 2014,” which was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Of the total number of jurisdictions, the number that received more than 75% of lab reports electronically was 21 in 2014, compared with 14 in 2013. The number of jurisdictions that received fewer than 25% of lab reports electronically was seven in 2014, compared to nine in 2013. Facilities that are part of four large commercial labs comprise 39% of the total ELR volume, according to the CDC, and public health labs account for 23% of the volume. Hospital labs send 20% of ELR volume, which is an improvement from the 14% reported in 2013.
More hospital laboratories are adopting the message format that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Meaningful Use incentive program requires in order to report test results—479 hospital labs were using it in 2014, compared with less than 200 in 2013. Also, nearly 3,000 eligible hospitals have registered to indicate their intent to send electronic laboratory reports to public health agencies through the Meaningful Use program. More than 1,300 were testing Meaningful Use-compliant transmissions for ELRs as of July 2014.
“ELR funding for public health agencies, coupled with CDC-provided ELR technical assistance appears to be resulting in increased implementation of ELR. The new CDC surveillance strategy also highlights ELR as a priority initiative for the agency,” according to the MMWR article. “With sustained effort and funding, ELR implementation in the United States is on track to reach a target of 80% of laboratory reporting volume via ELR in 2016.”