Wednesday, February 23. 2011
A new piece of technology will automatically gather reports of certain types of illness or injury and issue public health alerts if certain patterns are detected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and General Electric announced today.
Dr. Mark Dente of GE's Healthcare IT wing said the program's first test would be foodborne illness.
"As symptoms are captured by the computer, CDC matches them to patients reporting the same symptoms in a concentrated area - and a public health alert is issued. We could potentially reduce full days off the typical time needed to disseminate a public health alert, potentially saving lives. This is an incredibly exciting effort," he said.
All data transmitted by GE's program is carefully de-identified, the company said, so as to avoid the risk of identity theft posed by the transmission of electronic health information.
Experts say the move toward more digitization in healthcare record-keeping is a potentially seismic change for the health insurance industry, since it could allow drastic reductions in administrative and overhead costs.
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