BOSTON - The Boston Public Health Commission has won a prestigious national award for its sophisticated disease tracking system that enables the agency to quickly recognize outbreaks of illness in Boston and rapidly respond to them.
The Commission’s Infectious Disease Bureau will receive the 2009 HIMSS Davies Public Health Award of Excellence. The award was announced today at the Public Health Information Network Conference at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Before the introduction of the Boston Syndromic Surveillance System (B-SYNSS), public health officials had only anecdotal information on citywide diseases seen in emergency department visits in Boston. The surveillance system allows officials to monitor and characterize acute care activity across the city and take action much more quickly to stem outbreaks.
``When we can quickly inform healthcare providers about disease activity in the community, there is less delay in diagnosis,’’ said Julia R. Gunn, a register nurse and director of the Communicable Disease Control Division at the Boston Public Health Commission.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said the surveillance system was critical to helping the city contain the spread of the H1N1 virus in the spring. ``We were able to track trends in Boston, including the age groups that were most affected and the areas of the city where we were seeing the most flu activity,’’ she said. ``That allowed us to target prevention resources most effectively in real time.’’
Denver Public Health will also receive a Davies Award for its clinical information system. The awards will be presented in March 2010 at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) Annual Conference and Exhibition in Atlanta.
Since 1994, the HIMSS Nicholas E. Davies Award of Excellence has recognized excellence in the implementation and value of health information technology. The award honors Dr. Nicholas E. Davies, an Atlanta-based physician, president-elect of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Improving the Patient Record who died in an airplane crash in 1991 with Senator John Tower. Dr. Davies believed that computer-based patient record was needed to improve patient care.
``The achievements of the Boston Public Health Commission and Denver Public Health demonstrate how managing and sharing patient care data with their information systems have had a positive impact on the health status of the populations they serve,’’ said Amy Ising, chair of the HIMSS Davies Public Health Steering Committee. ``All of us on the committee congratulate these recipients for their dedication and commitment to public health.’’
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