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Electronic environmental reporting project.

Information previously unavailable to the public and to the medical community will soon enhance the connection between public health and clinicians.

The Centers for Disease Control awarded the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health (WVBHP) a grant in 2011 to strengthen the infrastructure of the 49 local health departments (LHD) in West Virginia. One component of the grant was funding for an electronic environmental health reporting system that would provide the LHDs the capability to perform and record inspections and investigations of their regulated facilities as well as document animal bite encounters.

Following research of environmental health electronic reporting systems that would allow for on-site inspections, activity tracking, and billing/invoicing, for all state-mandated environmental health programs and completion of the procurement process, HealthSpace, USA, Inc. was awarded the project in December 2011. The deployment of the software was divided into three phases. Phase I of the project began in January 2012. Twenty-six (26) local health departments are currently using the software that is powered by a tablet computer. The implementation schedule calls for all forty-nine (49) local health departments to be using the software by January 2014.

Before the implementation of this software program, there was no standard method of storing and filing environmental health data. Some environmental health records were in paper form, other LHDs were using various software programs to track permits and inspections. With the new software, facility information is stored consistently, creating an additional foodborne illness outbreak investigation tool. This tool will include the tracking and monitoring of foodborne illness complaints reported to environmental health at the LHD. This software will provide the ability to monitor major foodborne illness risk factors. It will also provide an improved ability to identify trends as related to outbreaks and more readily connect outbreaks that cross jurisdictional boundaries, thus, allowing for more timely notification to the medical community. Additionally, the data available will include animal bite encounters. The access to more timely and patient specific information may be helpful to the clinician in assessing the need for post-exposure prophylaxis.

Any clinician with an internet connection will have the ability to access relevant public health information. A physician would benefit from collaboration from public health by obtaining information, such as foodborne illnesses, in a timely and more pertinent fashion.

Fred R. Barley, R.S.

Electronic Environmental Reporting

Program Manager

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Title Annotation:West Virginia Bureau for Public Health NEWS
Author:Barley, Fred R.
Publication:West Virginia Medical Journal
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U5WV
Date:May 1, 2013
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