Researchers from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Harvard University Medical School, Atrius Health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have developed an electronic data tracking system designed to improve public health reporting, Healthcare IT News reports. Featured in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) April 11 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Electronic Medical Record Support for Public Health (ESP) system launched as a test in January 2007 at Atrius Health, a multi-specialty physician group serving roughly 600,000 patients in Eastern Massachusetts. Specifically, ESP, created with a CDC Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics grant, automatically scans electronic medical records to identify public health risks and electronically reports their details to the health department. Thus far, the program can detect seven infections including active tuberculosis; acute hepatitis A, B and C; Chlamydia; gonorrhoea; and pelvic inflammatory disease. Researchers note that ESP across one year helped report roughly 40 percent more cases of Chlamydia and 50 percent more cases of gonorrhoea, compared to traditional paper-based reporting efforts. In addition, ESP more accurately reported complete information such as noting whether the infected patient was pregnant and whether appropriate antibiotics were prescribed. In light of the findings, researchers suggest ESP can save time by automating paper-based surveillance tasks, as well as ensure more complete, timely and accurate disease reports (Pizzi, Healthcare IT News, 4/11/08; Harvard Medical School release, 4/10/08).