Evaluation Activities from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program

How to Cite

Romano, S., Davis, C., Collier, K., Johnston, S., Tesfamichael, H., & Yusuf, H. (2018). Evaluation Activities from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v10i1.8895



The objective of this session is to discuss syndromic surveillance evaluation activities. Panel participants will describe contexts and importance of selected evaluation and performance measurement activities in NSSP. Discussions will explore ways to strengthen evaluation in syndromic surveillance activities in the future.


Syndromic surveillance uses near-real-time Emergency Department healthcare and other data to improve situational awareness and inform activities implemented in response to public health concerns. The National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) is a collaboration among state and local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other federal organizations, and other entities, to strengthen the means for and the practice of syndromic surveillance. NSSP thus strives to strengthen syndromic surveillance at the national and the state, and local levels through the coordinated activities of the involved partners and the development and use of advanced technologies, such as the BioSense platform. Evaluation and performance measurement are crucial to ensure that the various strategies and activities implemented to strengthen syndromic surveillance capacity and practice are effective. Evaluation activities will be discussed at this session and feedback from audience will be sought with the goal to further strengthen evaluation activities in the future.


Syndromic surveillance practice among NSSP grant recipients: findings from a telephone based survey – S. Romano
This presentation will highlight the development and implementation of a survey among the NSSP grant recipients about their syndromic surveillance practice. The objectives of the survey was to develop knowledge and understanding about: a) characteristics of syndromic surveillance practice at the state and local level among jurisdictions that are NSSP grant recipients; b) challenges encountered by these jurisdictions in conducting syndromic surveillance; and c) strategies that may help address these challenges. The objectives and methods of the survey will be described in detail. The survey is expected to be implemented before the end of this year. Preliminary findings will be presented if available. Lessons learned and strategies to consider for strengthening syndromic surveillance practice will be discussed.

Defining a sustainable approach to syndromic surveillance through the AZ BioSense Workgroup Charter – K. Collier, S. Johnston
The Arizona BioSense Workgroup has developed a five year charter outlining the method and measures used for implementation and adoption of syndromic surveillance in Arizona. Membership consists of clinicians, IT and public health. The mission and vision help to establish a foundation for building capacity and quality of the syndromic surveillance data, improved population health and emergency response through timely and effective use of the data. Cross-cutting topics resulted in a process for assessing training needs, establishing protocols and evaluation of use cases, shared plans for situational awareness and making public health decisions. This talk will discuss the collaborative approach and how lessons learned will inform future activities.

User Acceptance Testing to inform development and enhancement of the BioSense Platform – C. Davis
Between June, 2016 and January, 2017, NSSP operationalized an updated BioSense Platform for conducting syndromic surveillance. The platform included ESSENCE, a software that enables analysis and visualization of syndromic surveillance data and the Access Management Center, a tool that enables jurisdictions to manage access to data. The development of and transition to the updated platform was informed by a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) that examined the functionality and usability of the platform and associated tools After webinar based orientation UAT, participants were requested to carry out specific tasks using the updated platform and tools in development. This presentation will discuss the objectives and methods of implementation of the UAT, findings from the UAT, and how these guided transition activities and the refinement of the platform applications.

A quantitative and qualitative assessment of user support provided by the NSSP Service Desk – H. Tesfamichael, S. Romano
A principal component of NSSP is the BioSense platform that includes health care visits related information, particularly related to emergency department visits, from across the U.S. BioSense and its associated tools, including ESSENCE, the Access Management Center, and Adminer, enable state and local health departments, and other, as appropriate, to use syndromic surveillance data to implement surveillance and assessment activities. The NSSP Service Desk provides technical support to BioSense users to assist with the use of the BioSense platform and its tools Users submit support request tickets through an online application. An analysis of information related to these tickets, including the context of the requests and their resolution status, was conducted to better understand the support needs of users and how well these were being addressed. This presentation will discuss the assessment, findings, and conclusions.

How the Moderator Intends to Engage the Audience in Discussions on the Topic

The moderator will introduce the session and the panelists. The moderator will also invite questions and comments from the audience, and will facilitate the discussions.


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