Electronic Health Records as a Resource for Public Health Surveillance

A new project from the California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP) assesses the use of electronic health records for environmental health surveillance and explores diabetes in two California counties.

An image for Electronic Health Records as a Resource for Public Health Surveillance

Case Study of Glycohemoglobin Testing & Diabetes Surveillance

Electronic health records (EHR) are the digital version of a patient’s paper chart and may include medical history, diagnoses, prescriptions, lab results, and other critical health information. EHR may provide data that—in comparison to more traditional health data sources, such as hospital discharge records and community health surveys—are more timely, more accurate, and better able to describe health disparities in local communities. However, there have been few efforts to date to understand EHR’s utility for chronic disease surveillance.

As part of a National Environmental Health Tracking Program initiative to explore the utility of EHR for chronic disease surveillance and in partnership with Kaiser Permanente Northern California, the California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP) conducted a pilot study to assess the feasibility, validity, and utility of EHR. The assessment focused on diabetesa disease with environmental links and of high concern to local health departmentsin two California counties. Using records for blood levels of glycohemoglobin, which indicates how well blood sugar is being controlled, CEHTP found that EHR were useful for documenting diabetes disparities by geography, race, and income.

Download the full paper, which:

  • Describes the state of EHR use in California Identify challenges in EHR adoption and data reporting
  • Analyzes the practicality, validity, and surveillance utility of glycohemoglobin as a marker for diabetes prevalence or control
  • Describes the potential utility and barriers for use of EHR in public health surveillance
  • Provides an analysis of diabetes control for Contra Costa and Solano Counties

The California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP) is a collaboration of the Public Health Institute and the California Department of Public Health. CEHTP is part of a national initiative coordinated by the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.

Originally published by Download the paper.

Work With Us

You change the world. We do the rest. Explore fiscal sponsorship at PHI.

Bring Your Work to PHI

Support Us

Together, we can accelerate our response to public health’s most critical issues.


Find Employment

Begin your career at the Public Health Institute.

See Jobs


Breakthrough Infection Study of Over 600,000 Veterans Shows Declining COVID-19 Vaccine Protection

A new pre-print study of over 600,000 veterans by researchers from PHI and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center finds that overall COVID-19 vaccine protection declined significantly between February and August 2021. Declines were greatest for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (from 88% in March to 3% in August), followed by PfizerBioNTech (91% to 50%) and Moderna (92% to 64%).


Continue to