Public health officials seek to mitigate the impact of health-related events through early detection and rapid response. The challenge for biosurveillance is to rapidly identify and characterize these events amid the backdrop of other health and illness patterns. EHRs are a vital source of information for active biosurveillance. Unfortunately, the promise of utilizing EHRs for widespread biosurveillance has been hampered by a number of factors. As healthcare organizations begin or continue the challenging process of EHR selection and implementation, it would be prudent to consider taking a broad view of the role EHRs and other applications may play in the future. Furthermore, organizations must be prepared to receive and act upon information from federal, state and local agencies. The widespread adoption of electronic health information could dramatically improve the nation's biosurveillance and response capabilities.
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