The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $4.4 million to fund four university-based "centers of excellence" to help improve detection of public health threats and test new public health informatics tools.
The grants will fund Centers of Excellence in Public Health at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Indiana University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Utah.
"These centers will advance the study and practice of public health informatics through collaborative efforts among academic public health experts, local and state public health departments, developing regional health information organizations, and other health and informatics professionals," said Dr. Stephen Thacker, acting director of CDC's National Center for Public Health Informatics.
The centers will emphasize measurement of the public health effects of their work, he added.
Each center will conduct two projects that support national priorities in informatics and support real-time bio-surveillance for potential health threats through immediate access to data from hospitals and health care systems in major metropolitan areas, Thacker noted.
Among the projects, the center at Harvard Pilgrim will integrate electronic health records and personal health records with public health functions and outcomes to prevent and manage chronic diseases and their effects.
The University of Pittsburgh will research the electronic ability to detect and characterize cases of disease and outbreaks of disease as quickly as possible.