News Feature | December 5, 2014

EHR Predicts Early Flu Season

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Flu Shot

Atenahealth’s cloud-based electronic health record has the ability to track about a million doctor’s appointments every week and has already reported early signs of the flu.

The cloud- based electronic health record (EHR) of Atenahealth tracks more than a million doctor’s visits across the country every week. Through this, experts can track trends in illnesses like the flu. To that point, Healthcare IT News reports that by using this data, the company can predict outbreaks of the flu based on similar symptoms reported at appointments.

Last week, Atenahealth reported that, although vaccination rates are higher than last year, “there are signs that influenza-like illness (ILI) rates are starting to climb, especially in the Midwest.” Further information “suggests that the region might be headed towards either an early flu season, or flu levels that will fall between last year’s relatively mild outbreak and the severe levels of the 2012-2013 season.”

Now, this week, Atenahealth reports flu season will be striking early. According to a blog post, “Our latest data (for the week ending Saturday, November 22nd) shows that influenza-like illness (ILI) rates are beginning to rise across the country.

“The increase is particularly high among children (birth-18). The percent of visits to pediatricians with a diagnosis of ILI increased from 2.8 percent to 3.5 percent last week alone. As a result, flu is more widespread among children this year than last and rapidly approaching rates seen in the difficult flu season of 2012-2013.”

Another company that is tackling the flu is Google, whose Flu Trends got a much needed makeover this season. Google added data from the CDC this year in an effort to improve data accuracy.