Birth defects affect one in 33 babies and are a leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. To identify the causes and find opportunities to prevent them, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) operates the Georgia Birth Defects Registry.
The Birth Defects Registry captures population-level baseline rates of 41 different birth defects. With this knowledge, DPH can provide early intervention and services that can help improve the health of children living with birth defects.
A few years ago, when Kim Dial, an Informatics Analyst/Project Manager in the Office of Informatics at DPH, began examining ways to streamline the reporting process, he discovered that only Michigan was electronically reporting birth defects for Meaningful Use.
GaHIN helped connect Dial with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), which participated in the pilot program. While a CDA was originally envisioned for reporting, the document can be more than a hundred pages long. CHOA suggested HL7 messaging would be a more efficient means of sharing information. After discussions with the Birth Defects Program officers, it was deemed acceptable to start with a very streamlined version of an HL7 message standard.
“I got to work on the painstaking process of rewriting the CDA into HL7 language,” says Dial. "No other state in the country is using this technology currently, as a national HL7 standard is in the process of being created; in fact, most states are still in the very early stages of establishing electronic reporting for Meaningful Use.”
Today, CHOA is still reporting via the service and DPH is seeking other hospitals and health systems to adopt the technology. Dial points out that participating in the registry helps to satisfy reporting requirements for Meaningful Use attestation.