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Essential Components of Every Clinical Surveillance Solution

Hospitals today have an abundance of information on patients, infectious organisms, clinical best practices and costs. The challenge in using this information is having the right person access the necessary information at the right time. Clinical surveillance solutions can help solve this problem by taking electronic health data, applying clinical rules, and presenting the information at the appropriate time to a clinician at the point of care. 

Hospitals can benefit from the automated analysis and timely delivery of relevant information offered by clinical surveillance solutions. Clinical surveillance can facilitate the review of large amounts of data, enabling clinicians to identify emerging infections, potential adverse drug events, or sentinel events in near real-time, reducing the risk of poor patient outcomes. On a larger scale, surveillance solutions make it easier to quickly identify and respond to public health threats, whether they are virulent strains of the influenza virus, new organisms of concern or outbreaks of food poisoning.1

By dramatically cutting the time spent on analysis, surveillance systems free clinicians to undertake higher value activities, such as patient care and education. Most systems can also simplify the work of preparing reports that demonstrate regulatory compliance, saving the time otherwise required to transfer information from spreadsheets or individual reports. Cost analyses are also streamlined as systems can track interventions and associated cost savings, including reductions in healthcare-associated infections and extra days of care avoided, savings on antibiotics, and even reductions in resistant organisms.2

The integration of care guidelines and dosing recommendations helps reduce errors and increase adherence to best practices, which improves patient safety and outcomes while reducing costs. By having the information accessible at the point of care, surveillance systems increase productivity for those clinicians involved in patient care.

To provide these benefits, a clinical surveillance system needs to have the following components:

  • A way to integrate patient-specific data from systems throughout the hospital or from multiple reports from a single electronic medical record system
  • The ability to retrieve, analyze and report on data in real-time
  • Embedded clinical guidelines and facility-specific rules
  • Documentation templates to simplify recording of patient-specific data, current therapies, potential problems and recommendations for improvement around antimicrobial treatment as well as other medications
  • Diagnostic support and evidence-based order sets to assist in determining likely conditions, probable infectious organisms, and best course of action
  • Clinical workflow tools that support the clinician in the natural organization of their patient encounters, prescribing and review activities
  • A means to convert patient data, guidelines and hospital rules into an integrated, meaningful and timely alert or reminder at the point-of-care
  • The capability of communicating with public health authorities to quickly verify compliance and alert to concerns
  • Integrated, graphical reporting on initiatives, interventions, compliance and cost-savings by prescriber or pharmacist, unit and facility for hospital administrators and clinicians.  

Does your hospital’s clinical surveillance solution include these components? Which are most important to you?


  1. Greene LR, Cain TA, Khoury R, Krystofiak SP, Patrick M, Streed S. APIC Position Paper: The Importance of Surveillance Technologies in the Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs). AJIC. August 2009;37(6):510-513.
  2. Zilz DA, High JL, Nagel J. Clinical Surveillance: Clinical Decision-Support Systems in the Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative. A Continuing Education Monograph for Pharmacists. ProCE. February 14, 2014.

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