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Meaningful use and public health surveillance: to travel fast or far?


There is an ancient African proverb that states, ‘If you want to travel fast, travel alone; if you want to travel far, travel together.’ This paper examines the issue of whether public health can and should ‘go it alone’ in efforts for creating linkages between clinical care systems and the public health sector, as part of meaningful use requirements. ‘Going it alone’ in this circumstances refers to whether public health should seek to require data flows, through meaningful use requirements, that meet its work flow needs but do not add value to clinical work flows. An alternative would be to look for synergies between public health goals and the goals of the clinical care system, which public health could exploit to achieve its ends through collaborative means.


The objective of this paper is to review the limitations of current approaches to linkage of public health through meaningful use reporting requirements and to explore alternatives based on integration of public health data reporting requirements, with clinical quality improvement reporting requirements.

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