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    Ongoing observations by End Point Dev people

    Data Reporting with EpiTrax

    Shannon Sandall

    By Shannon Sandall
    February 16, 2022

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    Early COVID-19 form-building in Kansas

    In March of 2020, many states struggled with disease surveillance systems that were not ready for the COVID-19 pandemic. States were forced to wait lengthy periods for their vendors or systems administrators to stand up customized forms for COVID-19 investigations.

    State of Kansas informatics staff were able to configure their form within a matter of hours. When the first COVID-19 records came rolling in, the state was ready to go. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) was using EpiTrax, a National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NEDSS) compliant application created by the state of Utah.

    EpiTrax contains a powerful form-building utility that was easily customizable, allowing jurisdictional users to create forms for investigation and reporting purposes. Users could configure questions and value sets based on configurable lists, cutting down on free-text entries and ensuring data quality. Forms could be attached automatically or manually and assigned to specified agencies and conditions.

    Screenshot of form builder on Form Attributes tab with checkbox lists for Agencies and Conditions
    Screenshot of the form builder

    December 2021 updates

    Flash forward to December 2021. State of Utah developers rolled out an update to the EpiTrax form builder utility. All the previous version features, such as quick configurability and use of lists, remain, with additions to make investigators’ and informaticians’ lives easier. While the old form module was configurable, it did have room for improvement.

    The latest updates include question banks and value set banks that can be used across disease forms. This option allows for consistency across all forms and in reporting and analyzing data. State jurisdictions use system forms and core fields to pull data for CDC reporting purposes. The CDC NMI message mapping guides (MMGs) are the new generation of data transfer. These MMGs often require repeating fields, one option now available in the EpiTrax form builder.

    Users can configure forms based on the guide formats. Forms can be shared across conditions, aiding in the use of forms across comorbidities. The new form builder allows users to relate fields to existing core fields and sections. This allows the system to be more flexible and aids in creating a better flow in the user interface. The question formats accommodate many data types including address, phone and dates.

    Screenshot of select box drop-down showing widget type options
    Screenshot of the field type selector

    Utah’s experience

    End Point staff discussed the new form builder with the Utah Department of Health’s (UDOH) Health Informatics Program Manager, Rachelle Boulton. Rachelle related that UDOH was able to add form fields and configure those fields in the EpiTrax NMI Module within one day when the CDC recently released version 1.1 of their COVID-19 MMG. They reached out to the CDC on December 13th to announce their readiness and were the first state to onboard on December 29th.

    She attributed the quick turnaround to the new form builder’s ease of use and to their use of the NMI Module. Rachelle said, “The form builder gives us the opportunity to collect data for CDC reporting requirements and allows us to make changes quickly and send data out quickly.”

    When asked what she likes most about the new form builder, Rachelle stated that she appreciates the new question and answer banks and their ability to quickly and efficiently create new forms that are appealing on the user interface.

    Screenshot of Manage Questions page showing value sets tab and list of values that can be used in form responses
    Screenshot of the question manager


    End Point is collaborating with our current clients to migrate data from the old form builder to the new. We are excited to help them use the new functionality.

    Along with this effort, we hope to build a form repository for future clients using the new form enhancements which will allow users to quickly onboard for CDC MMG reporting. These new forms would accommodate any needed state workflow changes or additions and would allow states to implement EpiTrax in a timelier manner.

    When asked if she had anything else to add, Rachelle said, “I really like that we try to make EpiTrax not just a surveillance system, but a change management system. We embed these changes in the workflow to make users’ lives easier.”

    We at End Point agree with Rachelle. We look forward to the future of EpiTrax and what we can do to help it continue to improve moving forward.

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