The Northwest Public Health Information Exchange’s Accomplishments in Connecting a Health Information Exchange with Public Health

David Dobbs, Michael Trebatoski, Debra Revere


In 2007 the CDC issued a Request for Proposal for the “Situational Awareness through Health Information Exchange” project. The Situational Awareness project’s goals are to connect public health with health information exchanges (HIEs) to improve public health’s real-time understanding of communities’ population health and healthcare facility status. During this same time period the Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released several reports identifying the growing number of communities involved in health information exchange and outlining the requirements for a Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). CDC saw the possibilities of using HIEs and the NHIN to accelerate the real-time sharing of clinical and facility-based resource utilization information to enhance local, state, regional, and federal public health in responding to and managing potentially catastrophic infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies. HIEs would provide a unified view of a patient across health care providers and would serve as data collection points for clinical and resource utilization data while NHIN services and standards would be used to capture HIE data of importance and send those data to public health. This article discusses how automated syndromic surveillance data feeds have proven more stable and representative than existing surveillance data feeds and summarizes other accomplishments of the Northwest Public Health Information Exchange in its contribution to the advancement of the National agenda for sharing interoperable health information with public health.

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *