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Shaun Grannis, MD: The Emerging Field of Public Health Informatics



Medical Informatics is a well established discipline with over three decades of history that draws upon information science, computer science, and health care to support and improve healthcare processes. In comparison, Public Health Informatics is a relatively nascent field having begun to gain increasing attention over the last decade. While this new discipline draws upon the principles of Medical Informatics, it is gaining a distinctive identity of its own.  As director of the Indiana Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics, Dr. Grannis will describe emerging public health informatics initiatives and opportunities, including disease surveillance, automated electronic laboratory reporting, and he will highlight leading-edge examples that are specific to Indiana.


Shaun Grannis, MD, MS, FAAFP is a Research Scientist, Regenstrief Institute, Inc. and Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine.  He received an Aerospace Engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and underwent post-doctoral training in Medical Informatics and Clinical Research at Regenstrief Institute. He joined Indiana University in 2001 and collaborates closely with national and international public health stakeholders to advance the technical infrastructure and data-sharing capabilities.  He is a member of World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for the Design, Application, and Research of Medical Information Systems, where he provides consultancy on issues related to health information system identity management and implementing automated patient record matching strategies.

Dr. Grannis completed an analysis of an automated regional electronic laboratory reporting system that revealed substantial increases in the capture rates for diseases of public health significance when compared to manual, paper-based procedures.  He is project director for an initiative integrating data flows from over 120 hospitals across the state of Indiana for use in public health disease surveillance. For the last 5 years this system has received real-time data from hospitals amounting to more than 2 million transactions per year, and has detected public health outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other events of interest to public health.  Most recently this system was leveraged to monitor H1N1 influenza disease burden across the state of Indiana. As co-chair of the U.S. Health Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) Population Health technical work group, Dr. Grannis helped lead development of technical Interoperability Specifications for nationally recognized public health IT use cases.

Dr. Grannis also serves as the Director of the Indiana Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics, which recognizes that public health practice is driven by a wide variety of data types, data sources, and data management techniques.