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New Innovation

Animal bites aren't infectious. Nor are motor vehicle accidents, overdoses, or heat-related illness.

In fact, there is a lot of work going on at Health Monitoring Systems that doesn't involve detecting bioterrorism or outbreaks.

The EpiCenter system is effective in helping public health departments accurately track everyday occurrences.

In the last few years, we have seen more and more requests for help in looking at daily issues related to use of the healthcare system.  Although this is a recent phenomenon, we have been working on daily use cases for several years.

Back in 2006, Dr. Margo Erme of the Akron Health Department looked at the chief complaints collected by the system and found that animal bites were being under reported.  This was the first step in developing a new approach toward using electronic surveillance to meet everyday needs.

Within EpiCenter, some customers have begun using data from the Influenza-Related Illness classifier to supplement or even replace standard influenza reporting from hospitals.  The timeliness and ready availability of chief complaints that make them so valuable for event detection also allow for faster and more convenient report generation.

These new uses for classified chief complaints in turn create demand for new types of classifiers.  A new classifier for alcohol-related complaints will allow users to maintain awareness of alcohol use and abuse in their region.  In addition, while alcohol-related incidents are not infectious, they can still cluster in time and space in ways that may warrant public health investigation and intervention.

We have also developed a classifier for heat-related illnesses, ranging from heat rash to sunstroke.  As with complaints involving alcohol, heat-related issues can cluster even though they are not caused by infectious agents.  By tracking both mild and severe heat-related symptoms, it may be possible to identify areas where mild symptoms are increasing and carry out interventions before a large number of severe cases develop.

Another new classifier looks for dental complaints; this addresses an emerging need for some of our customers.  Budget cuts in some regions have led to the reduction of public dental insurance options, which in turn has led to an increase in the number of people seeking treatment for dental problems at emergency departments.  The dental classifier will enable public health users in those regions to track this trend and gain an understanding of the magnitude of its impact.

If you would like to talk to us about EpiCenter classifiers or new classifier ideas, drop us an email at info@hmsinc.com or call us at 412-231-2020.