Public health surveillance: America the backward (from Effect Measure)

Every other industrialized country has a national health care system that makes keeping track of these elementary facts possible. The US doesn’t. We have a lot of electronic medical records, all right, but they are mostly devoted to billing and insurance. And there are a lot of different proprietary software systems that can’t be easily adapted, altered or modified and can’t talk to each other. One of Obama’s initiatives to control costs is Electronic Medical Records (EMR), but the economic benefits he touts are almost certainly being oversold. It won’t save us that much money.

But what a decent system could do — and the system that we might get might be very, very far from a decent one from the provider and patient perspective — is provide the kind of surveillance information that would make assuring the safety and efficacy of vaccine programs and a myriad of other things possible.

Revere notes just one of the many drawbacks of our lack of healthcare statistical information at a national level.


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