Electronic Communicable Disease Notification System
Rationale for development of Electronic Notification of Communicable Diseases
Conventional methods of mandatory notifiable disease reporting from health care providers for governmental surveillance of communicable diseases include mail, facsimile, or telephone. However, these require the active cooperation and engagement of staff involved, and manual handling and processing of information, which poses risks.
Timeliness in reporting is also crucial for early detection and prevention of outbreaks of communicable diseases. Delays in the notification process can have a significant impact on population health. To overcome these and other challenges associated with conventional reporting, the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), the largest primary care provider in Qatar, in collaboration with Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), developed an electronic system to notify communicable diseases – the Electronic Communicable Disease Notification System (ECDNS). Electronic notification from primary health care centers was designed to improve the awareness, efficiency, quality, and timeliness of disease notification to contribute to national efforts to promote better surveillance of notifiable diseases in Qatar.
The ECDNS solution
Traditionally, the notification system relied on physicians recognizing a patient diagnosis as a notifiable disease, initiating the notification process, and transcribing the required information onto a standard paper form issued by Qatar’s MoPH. Once completed, the forms were sent via facsimile or courier to the MoPH and a copy sent to the PHCC’s communicable disease control team. This manual notification system, was in place until April 2018. Subsequently, the newly developed solution, ECDNS, electronically reports notifiable communicable diseases as mandated by the MoPH. The ECDNS uses automated data extraction and electronic communications to report notifiable conditions to MoPH (see Figure 1).
The three stages of the process are as follows:
- When a physician diagnoses a suspected notifiable communicable disease, a form pops up on the Cerner Millennium® system user screen prompting the physician to capture necessary information and generate an electronic notification.
- The electronic notifications are extracted automatically at 30-minute intervals to a staging database in PHCC.
- The MoPH system pulls electronic notification records from the PHCC staging area and imports them into its national surveillance system for contact tracing and investigation.
For continuous monitoring, a dashboard was developed that identifies heat maps for a focused review of potential hotspots. This enables further surveillance for communicable diseases.
This project has completely removed a paper-driven process across the State of Qatar and automated it using Cerner’s solution. This will improve the notification of communicable diseases and timely submission of notifications. In addition, a considerable reduction in paper waste has been achieved.
“The new communicable disease notification system has resulted in a stronger communicable disease (CD) surveillance system, supporting early detection and management of outbreaks.”
—Dr. Khalid Elawad-CDC, PHCC