Utah gets new weapon to track, prevent disease
April 1st, 2009 @ 1:02pm
Salt Lake City -- Utah public health officials have a new tool in their arsenal for disease tracking and management. The CSI TriSanoTM system is a secure, shared, Web-based database that can make statewide disease information available immediately to the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and the state's 12 local health departments (LHDs). CSI TriSano replaces the old paper system of reporting infectious diseases like influenza, cryptosporidiosis, Salmonella infections and whooping cough.
Before CSI TriSano, LHDs would enter a case into its own database, then print a hard copy and send it to UDOH. "The cases would trickle in so slowly from around the state it could be weeks or months before we could detect a trend," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Robert Rolfs.
For example, the 2007 pool-borne cryptosporidiosis outbreak sickened hundreds of people along the Wasatch Front before it was detected, and hundreds more before health departments could get preventive measures in place.
But CSI TriSano makes tracking and sharing information happen in real time. As soon as an LHD inputs a case, it can be securely viewed via the Web by the UDOH and those LHDs that will have a role in tracking, investigating and/or managing the case. Officials are confident the system will improve public health's ability to track, control and even prevent infectious diseases statewide.
"Protecting the public against health threats ranging from the recent Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter, to an influenza pandemic requires epidemiologists be able to track, investigate and respond to diseases across jurisdictional boundaries in real time," said Rolfs. "We now have the advanced technology that enables us to do that."
CSI TriSano will also electronically transmit disease data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC can then use it to monitor health trends across the country.
Work on the project began in November 2007, when the state and software company Novell engaged in a public-private partnership. Utah's LHDs and the Utah Departments of Health and Technology Services, in turn, partnered with Portland-based software company Collaborative Software Initiative (CSI) to develop the system. Fourteen months later, CSI TriSano was launched.
It is the first open source, Web-based infectious disease tracking and management system in the country, providing public health officials with a high-value, low-cost alternative that prevents duplicate, error-prone data entry.
"CSI TriSano facilitates timely disease reporting and reduced paper reporting between local and state public health agencies," said Gary Edwards, health officer for the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. "It will alert us to potential outbreaks as soon as the diseases are diagnosed, and lessen the burden on doctors, nurses and labs."
"We are extremely pleased to see CSI TriSano up and functioning," said Lewis Garrett, director of the Davis County Health Department. "CSI TriSano is a new and very helpful tool for health departments at both the local and state level to track communicable diseases of public health significance. This replaces a previously time-intensive manual system and allows local and state epidemiologists in Utah to share communicable disease information efficiently. The new system will help identify disease outbreaks quickly so we can notify health care providers and put measures in place to prevent these diseases from spreading in our community."
In addition to infectious diseases, CSI TriSano also tracks cases of child blood lead poisoning, which is helpful in directing public health efforts to prevent the condition. Dr. Rolfs hopes public health agencies will eventually be able to use the system to track other health issues like chronic diseases and reportable injuries.
(Courtesy The Utah Department of Health)