Syndromic Surveillance – Reports of Successes from the Field

How to Cite

Wilson, A., Hamby, T., Hou, W., Swenson, D. J., Collier, K., & Hoover, M. (2018). Syndromic Surveillance – Reports of Successes from the Field. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 10(1).


Objective: This panel will:
● Discuss the importance of identifying and developing success stories
● Highlight successes from state and local health departments to show how syndromic surveillance activities enhance situational awareness and address public health concerns
● Encourage discussion on how to further efforts for developing and disseminating success stories
Introduction: Syndromic surveillance uses near-real-time emergency department and other health care data for enhancing public health situational awareness and informing public health activities. In recent years, continued progress has been made in developing and strengthening syndromic surveillance activities. At the national level, syndromic surveillance activities are facilitated by the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP), a collaboration among state and local health departments, the CDC, other federal organizations, and other organizations that enabled collection of syndromic surveillance data in a timely manner, application of advanced data monitoring and analysis techniques, and sharing of best practices. This panel will highlight the importance of success stories. Examples of successes from state and local health departments will be presented and the audience will be encouraged to provide feedback.
Description: ●Success stories – acknowledging and informing syndromic surveillance practice
This presentation will discuss the importance of success stories for NSSP focused on increasing syndromic surveillance representativeness, improving data quality, and strengthening syndromic surveillance practices among grant recipients and partners. From the beginning of the program, the identification of success stories has been an important part of the efforts to develop knowledge base that better guide syndromic surveillance program activities.
●NJ and BioSense – Making The Connection 
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) uses Health Monitoring’s EpiCenter as its primary ED data for syndromic surveillance. This data is also submitted to CDC’s NSSP BioSense Platform. In April 2017, a spike in ED Visits of Interest was identified by a CDC NSSP subject matter expert and brought to the attention of NJDOH’s data analyst. Data showed an increase in “Exposure” and “School Exposure” chief complaints in two contiguous counties. News reports showed the visits resulted from a dormitory fire at a university in the area. The NSSP and NJDOH staff collaboration integrated data from both NJDOH’s EpiCenter and CDC’s BioSense Platform for further investigation. This activity shows BioSense Platform’s potential as an additional syndromic surveillance tool because of its different classifications and keyword groupings.
●Evaluation and Performance Measures at the Utah Department of Health
Syndromic surveillance related evaluation activities at the Utah Department of Health requires collaboration between subject matter experts and system users from the UT-NSSP workgroup. The progress is examined quarterly and outcomes compared with the short-, mid-, and long-term outcomes listed in the NSSP logic model to ensure activities are in sync with the program’s overall goals. Throughout the budget year, a variety of tools were used to keep track of the progress. During this session, challenges and successes, lessons learned, and effective strategies will be discussed.
●NSSP R tool Data Download Useful in NH
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) uses the state-wide Automated Hospital Emergency Department Data (AHEDD) system as its primary syndromic surveillance system. A copy of this data is submitted to CDC’s NSSP BioSense Platform. In July of 2017, NH worked with the NSSP vendor, CDC staff, a jurisdictional expert, NH Division of Information Technology staff, and an external vendor to create an “R” software download in CSV format and home-based NSSP Cognos report. This allowed NH DHHS staff to compare these data to the home-based data and ultimately, it proved to be an important step in the NSSP data quality assessment process.
●Achieving success to improve data quality through collaborative Community of Practice partnerships 
The Data Quality Committee is a forum to identify, discuss, and attempt to address syndromic surveillance data quality issues. Maintaining data quality for the chief complaint field is a priority as it can impact the creation and refinement in the successful application of a syndrome definition for one of the fundamental data elements. An issue was observed in the Arizona data in the BioSense Platform, where chief complaint was being truncated at 200 characters. Through efforts to build relationships from the committee in the Community of Practice, Arizona was able to discover the root causes for the issue, assess if it affected other jurisdictions, and work with the partners to find a feasible resolution. This talk will discuss how this collaborative approach helped improve data quality.
How the Moderator Intends to Engage the Audience in Discussions on the Topic: The moderator will introduce the session and the panelists, and will invite questions and comments from the audience.
Authors own copyright of their articles appearing in the Online Journal of Public Health Informatics. Readers may copy articles without permission of the copyright owner(s), as long as the author and OJPHI are acknowledged in the copy and the copy is used for educational, not-for-profit purposes. Share-alike: when posting copies or adaptations of the work, release the work under the same license as the original. For any other use of articles, please contact the copyright owner. The journal/publisher is not responsible for subsequent uses of the work, including uses infringing the above license. It is the author's responsibility to bring an infringement action if so desired by the author.