Background: The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) coordinates the administration of timely postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) to contacts of hepatitis A cases, making prompt disease reporting especially valuable. Electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) has been shown to improve timeliness of infectious disease reporting, and DOHMH began receiving hepatitis A reports via ELR in 2002.
Objectives: (1) to quantify the increase in the proportion of hepatitis A reports received electronically, (2) to assess how implementation of ELR affected the reporting time of hepatitis A, and (3) to assess how changes in reporting time impacted the ability to offer timely prophylaxis to contacts.
Methods: We evaluated the proportion of reports received via ELR and the annual reporting time of all hepatitis A reports and quantified the individuals who received PEP from 2000 to 2006. The specific impact of ELR on laboratory reporting time was assessed for nine laboratories certified as of July 2006.
Results: The proportion of hepatitis A reports received via ELR increased during the study period to 35 percent in 2006. Electronic laboratory reporting improved the reporting time for most of the laboratories certified to report electronically, with a median decrease of 17 days. In 2006, DOHMH administered PEP to 299 individuals; a fourfold increase from 2000.
Conclusions: Electronic laboratory reporting provides timely disease data to health departments. Increased utilization of ELR can have a remarkable impact on public health surveillance and response.