MEDSS Frequently Asked Questions

On this page:
  1. What is MEDSS?
  2. Who is using MEDSS?
  3. Why is MDH switching to MEDSS?
  4. What is the goal of MEDSS?
  5. When will the project be finished?
  6. Who is on the lead team?
  7. When can I start using MEDSS?
  8. How do I use MEDSS?
  9. What is deduplication?
  10. How does MEDSS tie into Meaningful Use?

1. What is MEDSS? MEDSS is Minnesota's new electronic disease surveillance and reporting system that will allow public health officials to receive, manage, process and analyze disease-related data. The interactive system provides an automatic information gathering and decision support processes for each reportable communicable disease. MEDSS Overview gives an overview of MEDSS.

2. Who is using MEDSS? Right now all communicable reported diseases within the state department will be using MEDSS to report to CDC and track diseases for current statistics and possible outbreaks. In addition a few groups are using MEDSS as a surveillance tool. Eventually all county health departments, local public health in metro area and public health nurses reporting these diseases to MDH will use MEDSS. MEDSS Overview has a list of communicable diseases and other groups using MEDSS.

3. Why is MDH switching to MEDSS? MEDSS will allow the state to modernize disease surveillance in Minnesota and allow for one integrated comprehensive database rather than individual systems for each disease group. MEDSS will allow for easy tracking, electronic reporting and sending data to the CDC. Other benefits include electronic exchange of health information, secure networks, reports to track cases, less duplication, and one shared system.

4. What is the goal of MEDSS? The goal of MEDSS is to modernize reporting and tracking of communicable diseases in the state of Minnesota by using a shared, secure and web-based system that all internal MDH employees and external partners can use.

5. When will the project be finished? All communicable disease groups will be using MEDSS by the Spring of 2011. In early 2011 implementation will begin for Lead, with a final completion date during summer of 2011.

6. Who is on the lead team?The lead team is comprised of MDH employees, representing each communicable disease and external local public health workers representing the state of MN. For more information and access to the lead team workspace, please contact health.medss@state.mn.us.

7. When can I start using MEDSS? Each group will have a different start date. Contact your MEDSS Lead Team represenative to find more information on your start date or please contact health.medss@state.mn.us.

8. How do I use MEDSS? To use MEDSS you must be employed by the state or county public health departments and working for one of the communicable disease groups using MEDSS. Another group using MEDSS are public health nurses working at hospitals and reporting diseases to MDH. A MEDSS training guide, training guides for each disease group and guides for different functionalities are available. Training Resources has general MEDSS training guide and instructional videos.

9. What is deduplication? MEDSS is a person centric system where all information collected is organized around a single person. An event within MEDSS is an instance of a person who is tied to a specific disease at a specific time. In order to have an efficient system, MEDSS wants to avoid duplicates of the same person. Therefore, the same person can be entered into the system with various diseases over time; each instance resulting in a different event in the MEDSS system. Deduplication is the process of merging two persons or events together that have erroneously be entered more than once. If you have deduplication permissions, there is an additional training guide to help you.

10. How does MEDSS tie into Meaningful Use? Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, health care professionals and hospitals can qualify for incentives if they meet specific objectives that are in place to improve health care quality, safety and efficiency through the promotion of health information technology (HIT). The public health requirements for health care professionals and hospitals are:

  1. Sending electronic laboratory reports (ELR) to public health
  2. Sending immunization information to public health
  3. Sending surveillance information to public health
MEDSS ties into meaningful use because it is the platform that will receive the ELR information sent by laboratories to MDH, and MEDSS will be used as the surveillance platform for several groups such as birth defects and hearing loss. For more questions on meaningful use and how to meet the ELR requirements for meaningful use, please contact health.medss@state.mn.us.
Updated Friday, November 02, 2012 at 10:15AM