Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. to announce flu tracking initiative

Swine flu hot spots and seasonal flu outbreaks will trigger a quicker and more coordinated public health response through a national initiative involving North Kansas City-based Cerner Corp.

The medical software company is expected to announce this morning its Flu Pandemic Initiative with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The system will tap the electronic medical records of Cerner clients, including medical centers that account for roughly 30 percent of hospital beds nationally, to detect outbreaks as they happen.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to discuss the initiative in a speech she will deliver at Cerner’s 24th annual health conference today in Kansas City.

Nationwide, more than 500 people with swine flu, formally called H1N1, have died, including a woman in Independence.

Sebelius could not be reached Monday, but an agency spokesman said, "We appreciate the good work being done by Cerner and several other companies who have joined our effort to help fight the H1N1 flu."

Cerner and the health agencies have been working on the initiative since August but timed their public announcement with this week's first wave of swine flu vaccinations nationally.

The initiative will allow public health officials to track quickly the changing levels of flu symptoms present throughout the Cerner client network.

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