Why You Should Participate in HHS (Health and Human Services) Regional Epi Groups

How to Cite

Colettta, M. (2018). Why You Should Participate in HHS (Health and Human Services) Regional Epi Groups. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v10i1.8995


Objective: Within the BioSense Platform, users have the ability to view HHS Region level data that can provide insight into what may be happening around the country. Epidemiologists can examine this information for changes in trends of subsyndromes or other potential issues of public health concern and compare it to their local data. However, the insight that regional data can provide is limited without better understanding of what is happening in the jurisdictions that make up the region. This round table will discuss the benefits of engaging with other jurisdictions within regions and attempt to define rules of engagement that can be used to facilitate interactions.
Introduction: One of the early successes for the National Syndromic Surveillance Program’s (NSSP’s) BioSense Platform was community agreement on what should make up national and regional picture of the data. For NSSP to meet program objectives, National level surveillance and situational awareness had to be made available – not just to CDC, but to the entire community. To make this possible, the community had to agree on a limited dataset that would be sufficient to produce national and regional picture. Currently when NSSP staff at CDC or a particular program review HHS Regional data, they can only see trends at high levels. Although, this information is proving useful, when very unusual data spikes occur there is insufficient information to determine its public health significance. CDC would like to set up HHS Regional Epi groups made up of syndromic surveillance practitioners within regions in order to communicate about potentially unusual findings and discuss implications for local jurisdictions.
Description: This round table will use case examples of data spikes for sub-syndromes in HHS Regions and discuss the following:
- What observations might warrant communications with local sites and potentially even warrant further investigation
- How the information should be communicated
- Ideas for ways that jurisdictions could collaborate on an investigation
- Any challenges to the current concept of operations.
How the Moderator Intends to Engage the Audience in Discussions on the Topic: The moderator will lay out two or three real world examples that might have benefited from having an HHS Regional Epi group to address the issue. Then the audience will be asked to comment on the following questions:
- What are the potential pros of such HHS regional epi groups?
- What are the potential cons of such HHS regional epi groups?
- What are best practices for communicating with HHS Regional epi groups (i.e. through list serve, forum, Event Communications System within ESSENCE, etc.)?
- What are the best ways to keep these HHS Regional Epi groups properly engaged and responsive without overwhelming them with requests?
- How can these HHS Regional Epi groups be used by other HHS Regions that are looking to collaborate?

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