THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

CDC pushes for more effective and faster lab reports

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pushing for faster and more effective lab reports to help states to respond better to disease outbreaks, according to a report on Thursday.

The new data, which was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, shows that the CDCs efforts are paying off. Since 2010, the CDC provided funds to help 57 states, local and territorial health departments to increase the use of electronic laboratory reporting. ELR is used to give health officials important information on infectious disease cases.

The report found that since 2005, the number of state and local health departments receiving electronic reports more than doubled. In the past year, the number of individual reports received electronically grew by 15 percent.

"Infectious disease outbreaks will always be with us-and rapid recognition of an outbreak saves lives," Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, said. "Thanks to electronic laboratory reporting, we're detecting outbreaks faster than ever. Unfortunately, only a quarter of the 10,000 labs across the country use ELR. We must keep expanding use of ELR to help CDC and our partners save lives and reduce healthcare costs."

The report found that ELR for some diseases lags behind others. For instance, while 76 percent of reportable lab results for general communicable diseases were sent via ELR, only 63 percent of results for sexually transmitted diseases and 53 percent of HIV results were sent via ELR.

"Electronic laboratory reporting can give health officials better, more timely and complete information on emerging infections and outbreaks than they have ever received before," Robert Pinner, the associate director for surveillance, programs and informatics in CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases, said. "Implementing these systems is a complex task that requires substantial investment, but ELR will provide health departments the tools they need to quickly identify and respond to disease threats and monitor disease trends now and in the future."

Increasing ELR is part of the CDC's effort, which includes advanced molecular detection. AMD enables laboratories to identify infectious agents in a fraction of the time it takes using outdated technology currently used by most labs. President Obama's 2014 budget would provide $40 million for the CDC's AMD initiative.