HIMSS looks to Denver, Boston for Davies Public Health winners
Recognizing public health achievement through health information management, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) awarded the Boston Public Health Commission, Infectious Disease Bureau and Denver Public Health, Denver Public Health Information Service as recipients of the 2009 HIMSS Davies Public Health Award of Excellence.

According to HIMSS, the Boston Public Health Commission, Infectious Disease Bureau; Boston Syndromic Surveillance System (B-SYNSS) has the "ability to take 'the pulse' of Boston’s communicable disease activity. The use of separate, distinct types of surveillance data is invaluable for providing actionable information. Public health response at a local level takes into account a myriad of factors, including disease processes, public perception, political accountability, and availability of resources to provide efficient and effective interventions."

The impact of B-SYNSS on population health comes every time public health can remove an unsafe product or provide prevention services, particularly in the community, because the surveillance mechanism helps avoid a trip to a healthcare provider, explained Julia R. Gunn, RN, director of the communicable disease control division, infectious disease bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission.

The other winner, Denver Public Health (DPH) is a division within Denver Health and Hospital Authority, an integrated, safety net healthcare provider. Every year, the Denver Health and Hospital Authority cares for almost 25 percent of Denver’s 600,000 citizens.

“The biggest success is the effective communication of information internally and with the state,” said Arthur Davidson, MD, director of public health informatics and preparedness.

Specifics of quality patient care with the clinical information system at Denver Public Health include the following accomplishments: clinicians have more time for patient care as opposed to completing paperwork; test results are more readily available; improved communication and collaboration between DPH and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the latter of which is now notified electronically; patients appreciate being able to log into a Web portal 24/7, versus calling during business hours for test results; and finally, the notification of positive results and need for treatment, via the opt-in text messaging program.

"The achievements of B-SYNSS and DPH-IS demonstrates how managing and sharing patient care data with their information systems has made a positive difference on the health status of the populations they serve," said Amy Ising, chair of HIMSS Davies Public Health Steering Committee.