The Department of Health and Human Services has set five goals for "leveraging," it said, advances in information systems and technology to fight hospital-acquired infections (HAIs):

1) Achievement of more rapid and more complete detection of HAIs by increasing capabilities to exploit current and future data sources, in part to standardize the terms for HAIs used routinely and to identify HAI indicators among a constellation of clinical findings within electronic data resources.

2) Increase in the rate of dissemination of reporting data to external HAI surveillance activities to permit rapid detection of patterns and trends for predetermined sets of demographics, to formulate tactics early prevention and intervention techniques.

3) Provide more comprehensive and timely data to focus prevention efforts and measure their effectiveness at reducing HAIs nationally.

4) Make available HAI data for an entire episode of care, e.g., both surgical process-of-care data recorded at the healthcare facility where the patient had his/her operation as well as surgical site infection data recorded at another healthcare facility, such as another hospital or a physician's office, when the patient seeks care there.

5) Create an "early warning" mechanism concerning HAI prevention reminders or clinical guidelines, either of which might be triggered automatically by findings or clinical plans or actions that are entered into electronic health record systems, resulting in the availability of relevant information about care practices.