Posted By Monique Dever On June 15, 2016
In our blog “Can Electronic Health Records help Public Health win the war against TB?” we talked about how EHRs can help fight the battle against TB. Well, the federal government is taking a stronger stance on it as well! Recently, the white house issued a National Action Plan for Combating Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. This is a comprehensive plan that identifies critical actions to be taken by health agencies to combat the global rise of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and urging states to strengthen their capacity to treat and detect drug-resistant TB.
There are three key goals of the plan to combat MDR-TB:
- To strengthen domestic capacity,
- Improve international capacity and collaboration,
- And to accelerate basic and applied research and development to combat MDR-TB
Per the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will work with up to 10 countries to develop comprehensive national laboratory strategic plans, improved diagnostic capacity and implement nationwide screening of TB Patients. Domestically (goal 1), what can we do at the local level?
The Action Plan has laid out two specific objectives that will help us reach those goals from a local level. The first is to upgrade TB surveillance to gather, store, analyze, and report electronic data on drug-resistant TB. EHRs can help improve electronic capture of TB test results.
The second objective is to strengthen state and local capacity to prevent transmission of drug-resistant TB. To do this we will need to be poised to respond rapidly to infected individuals and outbreaks, through specific treatments and contact investigation. EHRs can help with screening and medication availability as well as GIS mapping the community health for cases to help get a jump on potential outbreaks without overburdening your staff.
From the national level, the CDC will collaborate with the National TB Controllers Association to develop a surge-capacity rapid response plan to ensure that patients with TB are treated until cured. In addition they will look for ways to increase staffing at local health departments by establishing liaisons with other health institutes such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and emergency departments to help treat the hard to reach populations. They will also work with partners to create tools, metrics and databases to facilitate contact investigations.