Physician surveillance of influenza: collaboration between primary care and public health.
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PROBLEM ADDRESSED: Influenza-like illness (ILI) is a global and national concern. The surveillance of ILI requires collaborative efforts from many diverse settings, including primary care clinics. OBJECTIVE OF PROGRAM: To develop a sustainable reporting mechanism that enables primary care practices to provide ILI surveillance information to public health (PH) and addresses the needs of primary care practices and PH. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: An automated, electronic ILI reporting program that collects information on ILI activity directly from family physicians; the program is integrated with the practice's electronic medical record (EMR) system and therefore does not require physician initiation or disrupt physician workflow. Surveillance information is collected from a random sample of patient encounters using an automated pop-up screen that appears when exiting the patient's EMR. Weekly summary reports are transmitted electronically to PH. CONCLUSION: The EMR-integrated physician ILI reporting program is a simple and inexpensive way for family physicians to provide PH with important real-time, community-level disease surveillance information that is both complete and accurate. The program has been used in Hamilton, Ont, since 2004, which clearly demonstrates that it is a feasible and sustainable program in practice.
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