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Q. What are the purposes of a public health information network (PHIN)? How will implementing it improve the public's health? What kinds of changes can we anticipate in our disease control programs as a result of implementing PHIN?
A. PHIN-compliant systems will provide more timely and accurate information for faster and better decisionmaking and more rapid recognition of public health threats, allow for the integration of information systems for better analysis and for sharing of information, establish an electronic interface with laboratories and clinical care systems for more complete reports with less burden on data providers and initiate a standard architecture for surveillance that can be used for more than infectious diseases.

Q. How will use of and access to the newly uniform NEDSS data passed by the states to CDC be regulated?
A. The NEDSS architecture provides states the ability to integrate efficiently and standardize the information contained in their multiple surveillance systems Using the PHIN messaging system developed by CDC. It allows states to transfer to CDC information they are willing and legally allowed to share.

Q. Will states report personal identifiers to CDC by using the NEDSS base system?
A. A system-generated unique ID number is transmitted to CDC for record updates in routine transmissions of surveillance records to CDC.

Q. How do the HIPAA privacy regulations constrain what NEDSS can do, if at all?
A. The HIPAA privacy regulation permits access to individually, identifiable health information for appropriate public health uses without further individual consent. NEDSS includes standards for security and encryption of these data that are HIPAA compliant.

Q. How and when are states going to build injury surveillance, chronic disease surveillance, asthma surveillance, birth defects surveillance, cancer surveillance, and so on, using PHIN?
A. PHIN infrastructure and standards are supportive of surveillance outside of infectious diseases. When this infrastructure is established in the different states, we anticipate it will support other areas of public health. Current ideas include elevated blood lead and a state registry.