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Flu Season to Come Early, According to EHR Data

December 2, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Flu season will be coming early this year, according to electronic health record (EHR) data from Watertown, Mass.-based health IT vendor athenahealth.

athenahealth tracks approximately one million visits per week to 20,000 primary care providers around the country who are on the company’s cloud-based EHR. Because athenahealth is a cloud-based software and services provider, it is able to report on disease trends around the country with minimal delay, Iyue Sung, director of athenahealth's athenaResearch, wrote in a blog post.

The most recent data for the week ending Nov. 22 showed that flu-like illness rates are rising across the country. What’s more, the increase is particularly high among children. The percent of visits to pediatricians with increased from 2.8 percent to 3.5 percent the week alone leading up to Nov. 22.

As a result, flu is more widespread among children this year than last and rapidly approaching rates seen in the difficult flu season of 2012-2013, researchers note. Additionally, among adults, flu is climbing most in the Midwest region, where researchers are seeing a climb similar to that during the 2012-2013 season.

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