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Electronic Case Reporting: How it Works and Benefits 

by | Jun 29, 2023

As the name suggests, electronic case reporting (eCR) is the automated use of electronic health records (EHR) to capture, process, and communicate disease-related data, in real-time, to local, state, and federal health authorities. Essentially, it is a modern and more efficient way for healthcare providers and medical professionals to generate transmission of case reports of infectious diseases and other health conditions to the relevant authorities.  

What is Electronic Case Reporting and How Does It Work?  

eCR is now required under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPs) Promoting Interoperability (PI) category and in hospital and facility Promoting Interoperability Programs (PIP). It is a technology-enabled approach to disease surveillance and outbreak management. It involves the automated submission of relevant and standardized data from healthcare providers to public health authorities to improve the timeliness, accuracy, and completeness of infectious disease surveillance.  

eCR is not a new concept, and healthcare providers have been reporting data on paper for many years. However, technology has significantly improved the reporting process, making it faster, more accurate, and more efficient. Today there are more than 170 reportable conditions. It should be noted that eCR differs from electronic lab reporting (ELR), which is the electronic transmission of reports from laboratories to public health concerning notifiable conditions.  

Why is Electronic Case Reporting Important?  

eCR is another option for Eligible Clinicians (EC’s) and hospitals to meet some MIPs requirements. In fact, the use of electronic case reporting can improve the quality of both patient care and public health by enabling more accurate, faster, and more complete disease reporting to public health authorities. eCR reporting pathways within the Quality Payment Program (QPP) are streamlined to reduce the administrative burden of MIPs Quality Reporting for ECs. This means that ECs are able to meet their reporting obligations by submitting eCR to their local health departments, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well. 

eCR is highly beneficial to healthcare providers and public health authorities in many ways. It increases the speed and accuracy of disease surveillance activities. By reporting disease data electronically, healthcare providers can deliver information to public health agencies in real-time, making it easier for them to detect potential outbreaks and monitor the spread of disease. Moreover, eCR helps streamline the reporting process, eliminating the need paper forms, and can reduce the reporting burden on healthcare providers to multiple jurisdictions. 

In addition, eCR improves patient care outcomes as it enables access to national disease registries and other data surveillance tools that facilitate patient identification and cohorting for public health interventions. Patient-level data, with appropriate guardians, can also be collected to improve precision data collection. This also supports promoting interoperability programs. 

Finally, eCR supports multi-sectoral data sharing to improve understanding of social determinants of health that impact disease epidemiology. 

Benefits of eCR 

eCR offers numerous advantages over traditional methods of collecting information; from more efficient data collection to increased efficiency in reporting and auditing activities. The following are key benefits for both providers and patients.  

Faster Reporting and Analysis  

eCR allows medical professionals to report patient cases electronically, allowing for faster and more efficient reporting. Automated reporting systems can quickly identify and report cases to public health authorities, allowing for faster response times in emergencies, plus the ability to track disease outbreaks more efficiently. Additionally, digital records provide a searchable database of relevant health information that can be analyzed for patterns or trends. This information can help identify areas that require more attention or determine risk factors for particular illnesses. 

Improved Communication  

eCR improves communication between medical professionals, public health authorities, and laboratories. Electronic records help ensure that the right information is available to the right people so errors and omissions can be corrected instantly. This helps prevent data errors, duplications and promotes more effective communication amongst healthcare providers and organizations. 

Increased Accuracy and Efficiency  

Electronic case reporting can also help medical professionals improve the accuracy and efficiency of their reporting. Paper-based records may be misplaced or lost, leading to missing or incomplete information. With eCR, all relevant case information can be reported electronically in real-time, helping to ensure completeness and accuracy. 

Optimized Public Health Response  

eCR helps public health authorities respond quickly and effectively to potential public health threats. Early detection and reporting have proven critical in managing disease outbreaks and pandemics. eCR data can help public health authorities understand the progression and spread of disease outbreaks. Real-time data can be used to predict trends and help stop the spread of infections. 

Enhanced Patient Care  

Finally, electronic case reporting can benefit patient care. Digital case reporting systems can help medical professionals communicate patient information and treatment protocols more effectively, eliminating errors and improving patient outcomes. Additionally, eCR can help medical professionals track patient progress over time, identify underlying health issues, and provide personalized care as required. 

eCR Onboarding Process 

Healthcare organizations must be in active engagement with a PHA (Public Health Agency) to electronically submit case reports and to satisfy the requirements of ECR. The CDC recommends the following steps for implementing eCR with an EHR that meets Meaningful Use EHR Incentive Program standards: 

  1. Prepare for eCR adoption — Partner with your EHR/Health IT vendor to discuss options for implementing eCR and get final approval from your organization’s leaders prior to implementation. 
  1. Implement eCR — Follow the process to begin implementation and work with your EHR/Health IT vendor to enable eCR functionality and conduct testing. Make sure that your policy path is in place for reporting to public health agencies (PHAs) without violating HIPAA or any applicable state laws. Complete the eCR Provider Intake Form when directed to do so by your eCR onboarding coordinator. 
  1. Go Live — Work with your eCR onboarding coordinator, EHR/Health IT vendor, and PHA to ensure testing and data quality meet public health requirements and send production messages. You are required to maintain current manual case reporting processes alongside eCR until notified otherwise by the relevant PHAs for your organization. 
  1. PHA Validation — Collaborate with your PHA for production data validation and quality review. The PHA will communicate when you can discontinue manual reporting. 

Summary: Electronic Case Reporting 

Electronic case reporting plays a critical role in ensuring timely and accurate reporting of disease cases to public health agencies, helping to prevent and control disease outbreaks. By understanding the basics of eCR, choosing the right solution for your practice, training staff, developing reporting protocols, and monitoring and evaluating performance, you can successfully implement eCR in your practice. By doing so, you can help ensure the health and safety of your patients and the broader community. 

Medical Advantage Offers eCR Solutions  

Compliant EHR healthcare dashboards – like the ones facilitated by the experienced medical consultants at Medical Advantage – enable eligible healthcare organizations to seamlessly comply with eCR, MIPS, and other regulatory requirements. Our consultants are here to help with every step of the cCR onboarding process.  Contact us to learn more. 


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