When COVID-19 hit, the APHL informatics team was able to build on the existing infrastructure and relationships to quickly accommodate new reporting partners and testing data.

Deliver Technology Solutions


Deliver Technology Solutions

Over the past 12 years, APHL has built up the APHL Informatics Messaging Services (AIMS) Platform into a crucial data exchange platform for public health data. When COVID-19 hit, APHL was able to build on existing infrastructure and relationships to quickly accommodate new reporting partners and testing data. Terminologists developed a new standardized vocabulary for COVID-19 information. The Public Health Laboratory Interoperability Project (PHLIP) was reconfigured to handle COVID-19 data, and in a matter of weeks public health laboratories were in production and sending coronavirus testing data to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Though the pandemic has accelerated the demand for resources and capacity, the volume, types and sources of data flowing through AIMS have been increasing for years. APHL is launching a new Public Health Information Exchange (PHIE) dedicated to managing data exchange and enhancing technical capabilities in the AIMS platform related to data from the private sector.

Streamlined COVID-19 reporting

To facilitate this data sharing, APHL has been working since April 2020 with public health agencies in all 50 states and six territories to enable electronic delivery of their data to CDC in a single stream. This COVID-19 Electronic Health Reporting (CELR) leverages and builds on existing technical infrastructure in each state to have individual testing sites send data to the state public health department, which can compile, validate, standardize and report that data to CDC. In less than half a year, 42 jurisdictions were fully onboarded, representing 78% of COVID-19 testing in the US.

In less than half a year, 42 jurisdictions were fully onboarded, representing 78% of COVID-19 testing in the US.

With nearly all US public health laboratory COVID-19 testing data routed through AIMS, message volume in PHLIP between January and November was 9500% higher in 2020 than during the same period in 2019.

ETOR expansion

The Lab Web Portal (LWP) hosted on AIMS saw a huge expansion this year due to the addition of a SARS-CoV-2 electronic test orders and results (ETOR) portal. The tool allows providers to send electronic COVID-19 test orders to laboratories and receive results quickly and securely, streamlining workflows and reporting and improving data traceability. By the end of 2020, 22 public health laboratories were using LWP, up from five.

Keeping tabs on testing capacity

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, public health laboratories across the country scrambled to build SARS-CoV-2 testing capacity—then continued to scramble to procure the needed reagents and supplies to maintain that capacity. In early April, APHL mobilized a team of interviewers to check in weekly with each of the 99 state, local and territorial public health laboratories that perform COVID-19 testing. These regular assessment surveys served as a central data collection point to identify testing capacity, demand and supply needs across the country. The data have been used to guide decision making on distribution and prioritization of reagents and supplies, as well as to inform a training needs assessment and a wastewater surveillance survey.

Public Health Laboratory System Database

An updated version of the Public Health Laboratory System Database now includes comprehensive clinical and environmental test capabilities for most public health laboratories, as well as an equipment inventory and contacts page. The new format and layout display information in more intuitive tables and graphs and allow users to filter data by numerous parameters, such as testing platform or geographic region, to find relevant laboratory data quickly. The database will continue to expand, with modules underway specific to forensics and agriculture laboratories, and non-human testing.

COVID-19 tracking in Mozambique

Building upon the trust established over a decade in Mozambique, APHL added a module to the country’s Laboratory Information System and sample referral network system, already in use in over a dozen laboratories, and over 250 electronic sample referral system sites to support the COVID-19 pandemic response through lab data tracking, data management, sample referral,  and results authentication. These laboratory data inform the main data-sharing efforts in the country and the surveillance team at the Ministry of Health has relied on these to track the trajectory of the outbreak. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Instituto Nacional de Saúde.

APHL has also worked to support data privacy and confidentiality and develop a nationally available COVID-19 dashboard that tracks real time data of samples tested as well as positive and negative cases by province.

Launching DAART

An enhanced data repository for antibiotic resistance testing data launched on AIMS in late 2020. Called DAART (Data for Action on Antibiotic Resistance Threats), the new portal offers the same messaging capabilities as the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network Reporting Portal but with expanded functionality, including more options for data review and a customizable dashboard for viewing real-time metrics.


Covid-19 Informatics Resources

COVID-19 Informatics


Making sense of the COVID-19
data story (APHL Blog)

APHL Informatics



Printable Report