What is MENDS (Multi-state EHR-based Network for Disease Surveillance)?

This post is from the August 2019 Impact Brief newsletter. For information on recent MENDS work, visit the project page.

In 2018, CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention funded NACDD to conduct a demonstration of an electronic health record (EHR)-based chronic disease surveillance system. NACDD formed a team of experts including NACDD consultants, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Commonwealth Informatics, Harvard Medical School’s Department of Population Medicine, the Public Health Informatics Institute, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.

If successful, this demonstration project will lead to a real-time, chronic disease surveillance system in participating states using EHR data. EHR-based surveillance has the promise of being timely, accurate, reliable, as well as compatible with existing disease surveillance and data collection systems like the BRFSS and NHANES.

Specifically, MENDS is:

  • A multi-site demonstration testing an automated chronic disease surveillance system that provides accurate, near real-time, actionable chronic disease incidence and prevalence estimates using data from EHRs.
  • A collaboration between State Health Departments, healthcare organizations, and data aggregators such as Health Information Exchanges (HIEs).
  • A specific technical approach using an open-source software system that:
    • Data partners create and securely manage a warehouse of EHR data using a common data structure.
    • Allows users to develop surveillance analyses without exposing personal health information.
    • Generates approved analytic results that are delivered to public health users, such as State Health Departments, as aggregate deidentified data.

Evaluating different methods for addressing the non-random nature of EHR data in order to develop and validate state, sub state, subpopulation, and national-level chronic disease estimates even in circumstances where EHR data is limited.

For more information on MENDS, go to chronicdisease.org/page/MENDSinfo.

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