Background: While health departments routinely receive information on positive cases of reportable STIs, information is typically unavailable on persons who have been screened and are negative. This lack of information limits the ability of health departments to enhance population surveillance initiatives such as identifying underserved populations and targeting private providers with low testing rates. A multi-jurisdictional effort was employed to 1) describe the process by which a public private partnership could evolve, including receipt of de-identified STI data from two large reference laboratories, and 2) test for variability in STI testing rates across private providers using pilot data.
Methods: In 2015, a public-private partnership including six city and state Mid-Atlantic health departments (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.) and Johns Hopkins University was created. The partnership held a series of meetings to establish a collaborative group, agree on protocols for data storage, management and dissemination, and which laboratories to approach.
Results: Protocols for routine data transfer were developed and approved by two laboratories. Preliminary estimates for the six jurisdictions suggest that the volume of chlamydia and gonorrhea tests performed from one laboratory, Quest Diagnostics, exceeds 1.2 million records annually. In 2016, the partnership received a pilot set of data from one reference lab. Initial multivariable analyses indicate a geographic disparity in private provider chlamydia and gonorrhea testing practices for young adults, ages 15-24 years. Further analyses suggest that the disparity is associated with socio-economic status and educational levels.
Conclusions: The public-private partnership is an ongoing partnership that has resulted in the successful collaboration of six Mid-Atlantic health departments and one private university. The partnership has demonstrated how negative laboratory results can be obtained and the added value of these data on increasing population health assessment capacity.