Posted By Monique Dever On March 29, 2017
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been an overall 2.2% decline in the number of active cases of Tuberculosis since 1993. There are of course exceptions, such as the state of Washington which is up 7% this year. TB kills more than 4,000 people every day, worldwide, and approximately one-third of the world’s population is thought to have the causative agent of TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and are at risk of developing the disease. One-third of the global population!
Tuberculosis remains a major challenge for Public Health agencies. These agencies, as well as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Community Health Centers (CHC), must continue to be vigilant, use surveillance methods to track cases, and take measures needed to work toward eliminating the disease. Using an Electronic Health Records system designed for public health can provide some crucial help to fight the battle against TB.
How EHRs can be partners in the fight against tuberculosis:
EHRs with specific capabilities for TB treatment and progress plans as well as health mapping systems can improve the efforts of public health agencies. Some EHRs have integrated forms for TB instances, access to real-time community data (GIS), and more timely reporting capabilities. So, these systems can help the health departments locate clusters to prevent outbreaks, report on and monitor patient treatment progress, and provide real-time accurate data to develop better interventions. All of these measures can help ensure that the infected patients receive timely treatment, preventing further spread of the disease.
EHRs can also be beneficial for tailoring the workflow of clinical staff. It can prompt the staff of active cases, manage medications dispensed to the patients as well as the intake methods and reactions of the medications, and provide educational resources to share with patients. All this will in turn improve the quality of care as well as outcomes for patients.
TB is often curable if treated, although there are strains that are not cured through standard medications, called multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). These cases require more intensive and lengthy treatments, which also means more costs. So, the battle against TB and many other communicable disease will continue until it is eradicated.