30 November 2010

ISDS Committee Meeting Schedule in Park City

If you're joining us in Park City, Utah, and are interested in attending an ISDS Committee meeting, here is the schedule:

Wednesday, December 1st
11:30 am -12:00 pm:  ISDS Town Hall Meeting
Join the ISDS Board and staff for an update on the 2010 year.  ISDS Vice President John Brownstein will be reviewing the latest ISDS activities, projects, and more for interested members.

Thursday, December 2nd
12:30 - 1:00 pm:
  • Education & Training, Painted Horse
  • Public Health Practice, White Pine Parlor
  • Conference, Arrowhead
1:00 - 1:30 pm:
  • Global Outreach, Painted Horse
  • Research, White Pine Parlor

22 November 2010

Social and Outdoor Activities in Park City, UT

 It's hard to believe that the ISDS Annual Conference is now only a week away!  If you're joining us in Utah this year, please read on to learn more about what to do while you're there.  Some skiing options and opportunities for other group activities are highlighted below. 

We have just received this update from the Canyons Resort on their 2010 ski season:

Ski season at the Canyons will begin on Friday, December 10. Until that time, the Canyons will provide on-call shuttle service between the resort and nearby Park City Mountain for those who wish to ski before the Canyons’ opening day. This shuttle service will be available daily between the hours of 8am – 5pm. Please call the hotel directly at (435) 615-8040 for more information.

Other ski options include Deer Valley Resort (also in Park City), Alta and Snowbird (both ~1 hour from Park City).

In addition, ISDS staff are currently looking into arranging other group activities.  If you are staying on after the conference on December 2nd, 3rd and 4th, and are interested in joining colleagues for an outdoor activity, please let us know via email.  Please indicate your preferences in your correspondence:
  • Snowshoeing ($63-70 per person)
  • Cross country skiing ($55 for groups of 3+)
  • Tubing ($20 for 2 hours)
  • Alpine coaster ($20 per ride)

19 November 2010

Final Materials Now Posted for 9th Annual Conference

With the 9th Annual Conference now less than two weeks away, the ISDS team is busy making the final preparations for Park City, Utah.  

Final versions of the following documents are now posted on www.syndromic.org:

Full Conference Agenda
Oral Presentation Schedule
Poster Presenter List

In addition, plenary and keynote speaker bios are now available. 

09 November 2010

Research Committee Webinar: "Developing Syndrome Definitions Based on Consensus and Current Use"

For its November meeting, the ISDS Research Committee has invited Wendy Chapman, PhD, Associate Professor in the Division of Biomedical Informatics at the UCSD School of Medicine, to present her recent publication in JAMIA entitled, "Developing Syndrome Definitions Based on Consensus and Current Use." 

The presentation will be followed by a discussion, moderated by Don Olson, on evaluating a standard ILI syndrome definition across multiple sites in the Distribute Project.  Since the Distribute Project began in 2006, sites have been sending their aggregated emergency department ILI syndrome data, collected using region-specific definitions that accommodate sites' own surveillance needs.  The wish to improve comparability across systems has led to continued efforts to standardize.  The question of how best to harmonize syndrome definitions across disparate systems remains, thus, it is hoped that in this discussion, participants can weigh in on how to begin incorporating Chapman's findings into the ILI-S Pilot Project. 

Date:  Thursday, November 18th; 12:00-1:30 pm US EST

Register Online

More Information

01 November 2010

BioSense Redesign Invites Stakeholders to Make Sense of Surveillance

Another important announcement from our colleagues at CDC:
Using input and guidance from our local, state, and federal surveillance partners, CDC is pleased to annouce that the BioSense Redesign is underway! The goal of the redesign is to coordinate and link exisiting surveillance systems and build capacity where it’s needed.  This renewed focus will ensure rapid and enhanced interchange of surveillance information.
Bottom line, we want BioSense to meet your needs.  By integrating local- and state-level data into a cohesive picture, BioSense will accomplish three objectives—(1) provide more useful information for state and local users; (2) supply multipurpose value of timely data for regional entities and organizations (i.e., multistate); and (3) offer a national picture of multiple health outcomes and syndromes. 
We’ll be the first to admit that our redesign efforts are a major undertaking; however, we truly view the redesign as a collaborative effort that places you, the stakeholder, at the center of the redesign process.   Currently, we are gaining invaluable feedback and recommendations from stakeholders like you, through a number of methods, including the BioSense Redesign Collaboration Web Site—the focal point of the redesign. 
If you have not already done so, please take a moment to visit this site.  There you will find a number of interactive elements, like the Requirements Gathering Work Center and the Syndromic Surveillance Systems Coverage Map.  The Work Center is a virtual space where we gather stakeholder feedback on topics ranging from capacity and governance to application design.  New questions are posted for user input on a weekly to biweekly basis.  Additionally, the Coverage Map, which has been populated with data from the Distribute project, provides a snapshot of the nation’s syndromic surveillance systems.  Like the BioSense Redesign, maintenance of the Coverage Map is a collaborative effort that can only be successful with stakeholder input. 
Your feedback is invaluable and it will directly impact the redesign of the BioSense program.  We hope that you will become a regular visitor and contributor to the Requirements Gathering Work Center. If you are the appropriate person to edit your jurisdiction’s data on the Coverage Map, please send an e-mail and your name will be added to our list of approved site editors.
Visit the BioSense Redesign Collaboration Web Site and view the Coverage Map or view the Requirements Gathering Work Center.
Let’s make sense of surveillance together!

19 October 2010

October Literature Review: Absolute Humidity and Influenza Transmission Dynamics

On Tuesday, October 26th, the Literature Review subcommittee is hosting its bi-monthly Literature Review, along with a special presentation by scientist Jeffery Shaman of the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University.  The meeting will begin at 12:00 pm EST with a short summary of recent publications, followed by Shaman's presentation at 12:30 pm EST. 
Shaman will discuss his groundbreaking work investigating the role of absolute humidity on influenza transmission dynamics, including his recent paper "Absolute Humidity and the Seasonal Onset of Influenza in the Continental United States," published in PLoS Biology.  His recent work on this topic have fundamentally changed the way we understand influenza seasonality -- and they may well alter how we practice disease surveillance in the future.  Be sure not to miss this opportunity!

12 October 2010

Call for Papers: International Conference on Animal Health Surveillance 2011

The International Society for Disease Surveillance would like to pass along an announcement sent to us by some of our members.  Earlier this year, it was announced that the first ever International Conference on Animal Health Surveillance would be happening in Lyon, France in May 2011.

The ICAHS is now accepting submissions for papers and has opened registration:
"The aim of the conference is to gather scientists and policy makers working in the area of animal health surveillance to exchange new ideas and better understand the challenges and opportunities that each group faces, and to develop solutions for future surveillance approaches under considerations of efficiency, cost-effectiveness and quality that fulfill the needs of both policy and science. We hereby invite submissions of papers for oral and poster presentations. Oral presentations will be 15 minutes plus discussion. Details on poster formats will be provided directly to the authors after acceptance of their submission.
Submissions are invited in the following themes:
1)  Value and evaluation of surveillance systems
2)  Design of surveillance for different objectives and populations (developing and developed countries)
3)  Data collection, transmission and management
4)  Dissemination of surveillance information
5)  Training in animal health surveillance
6)   Implementation of surveillance"
 Read the full Call for Paper Submissions

ISDS Workgroup Supports Meaningful Use of EHR Technology

This fall, as CMS certifies technologies for the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) Incentive Program, ISDS's Meaningful Use Workgroup is developing core EHR requirements for syndromic surveillance to support meaningful use by public health authorities.  

Convened in July, this eight member Workgroup of public health surveillance experts will document current syndromic surveillance business processes and data requirements.  The BioSense Program of the CDC Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services is providing funding to support these activities.

On September 27th, ISDS published the Workgroup's Preliminary Recommendation.  This document presents a snapshot of their work, including: A listing of syndromic surveillance business goals, objectives and processes; and a minimum data set commonly used in public health syndromic surveillance.

ISDS members and other community stakeholders will have an opportunity to contribute during an open commenting period scheduled for late-November to mid-December.   The Workgroup's Final Recommendation will be released in January 2011.

Learn more about Meaningful Use Workgroup, and find resources on the EHR Incentive Program on the project's page on syndromic.org.

07 October 2010

ISDS Job Opening: Executive Director

The International Society for Disease Surveillance is currently accepting applications for an Executive Director position.

The Executive Director of the International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS) functions as the Chief Executive Officer of the society and provides leadership and direction for ISDS in collaboration with the Board of Directors.  The Executive Director is responsible for overall strategic planning, setting annual goals and objectives, revenue generation, financial management, organizational development, implementation of policies set by the Board of Directors as well as administrative management of the Society. The Executive Director reports to the ISDS Board President and Executive Committee.
The Executive Director is responsible for identifying, developing and implementing policies and programs which support the ongoing work of the Society. The Society’s work is primarily organized through the activities of specific committees, including: Public Health Practice, Education and Training, Research, and Global Outreach.

View full job description

30 September 2010

Call for Pre-Conference "Data Dashboards and Visualizations for Biosurveillance" Swap Meet Presenters

The 2010 ISDS Pre-Conference Workshop will be the second time the so-called "Swap Meet" will be held.  The idea of the "Swap Meet" is to create a setting where presenters and participants can interact, discuss, and share information in a less formal environment.   
This year the pre-conference workshop committee would like to include a "Swap Meet" table on the topic of "Data Dashboards and Visualizations for Biosurveillance."  We are asking for interested individuals/groups to share these data dashboards and visualizations in a poster format, handouts, or laptop demo.  We also strongly encourage the sharing of code, if possible.   

Depending on the response to this request we will be sure to have one or two poster boards available, as well as table(s) where laptops could be set up.  For the most up to date information on the pre-conference workshop, please check the agenda posted on syndromic.org.  If you have any questions please contact Aaron Kite-Powell.  We are looking forward to seeing you at the conference!

14 September 2010

Syndromic Surveillance Experts Will Recommend Standards for Stage 1 Meaningful Use

Brighton, Massachusetts –  The International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS), with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s BioSense Program has convened a Meaningful Use Workgroup to define current syndromic surveillance business standards and data requirements that best support Stage 1 meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) technology by public health departments.

In this first project phase, the Workgroup will develop a provisional business process model (BPM), to inform minimum data specifications for syndrome-based public health surveillance.  

An interim Stage 1 Meaningful Use recommendation for EHR vendors on syndromic surveillance data specifications will be released in October and will be ready for public comment starting in November. 

A final Stage 1 Meaningful Use recommendation for syndromic surveillance will incorporate public comments and be released in January, 2011.

ISDS is coordinating this initiative with the Joint Public Health Informatics Taskforce (JPHIT). HLN Consulting, LLC (San Diego, CA), will provide analytic support to the workgroup.

ISDS’s Meaningful Use workgroup consists of seven expert syndromic surveillance practitioners from state and local public health authorities in Florida, Washington, Virginia, Indiana, Georgia, New York, and Boston, MA.

The International Society for Disease Surveillance works to improve population health by advancing the science and practice of surveillance to support timely and effective prevention and response. We facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, and promote and conduct research, education, and advocacy.


08 September 2010

CDC BioSense Redesign Collaboration Site Launch

The following is an announcement from our colleagues at CDC, who recently announced the launch of the new BioSense Collaboration Site

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division of Healthcare Information, Public Health Surveillance Program Office, Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services is pleased to announce the launch of the BioSense Redesign Collaboration Site on Wednesday, September 1, 2010.
The collaboration site is the centerpiece of the BioSense Redesign process and features a variety of informative and interactive elements, including a resource library and community forum.  The site also fosters and encourages a transparent community for information exchange among key stakeholders, interested users, and the BioSense Redesign team.  Designed to provide BioSense users and stakeholders with an efficient means of information sharing, the collaboration portal also provides users with the opportunity to
•   follow the project as it progresses,
•   provide input,
•   communicate and exchange ideas with one another, and
•   correspond with the BioSense Redesign team.
The comprehensive and collaborative approach of the BioSense Redesign will ensure the program meets the needs of the diverse users, spurs innovative practices to enhance public health surveillance, and becomes a valuable tool for promoting and protecting the health of our nation.
Please take a moment to visit the site at https://sites.google.com/site/biosenseredesign, and let us know what you think of the site and how we can make it more useful.  Users can provide anonymous comments on the community forum, or send comments to Biosense.redesign2010@gmail.com.
Taha A. Kass-Hout, MD, MS
Deputy Director (Acting) for Information Science and BioSense Program Manager
Division of Healthcare Information
Public Health Surveillance Program Office
Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, & Laboratory Services
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Sam Groseclose, DVM, MPH, DACVPM (Epi)
Director (Acting)
Division of Healthcare Information
Public Health Surveillance Program Office
Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, & Laboratory Services
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

24 August 2010

Upcoming Webinar: August Literature Review and Presentation on Seasonal Synchronization of Influenza

The ISDS Research Committee will be hosting its bi-monthly Literature Review this Thursday, August 26th at 12:00 pm EST. 

In addition to the regularly scheduled review session, there will be a presentation by Elena Naumova, PhD, on her recent publication entitled "Seasonal Synchronization of Influenza in the United States Older Adult Population."  Dr. Naumova is a professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Director of the Tufts Initiative for the Forecasting and Modeling of Infectious Diseases at Tufts University School of Medicine. 

The first half hour of the call will consist of the regularly scheduled review of notable publications in the last two months, followed by Dr. Naumova's presentation at 12:30 pm EST.

To access the list of recent publications, please contact us.

Register for the webinar here.  

10 August 2010

Call for Proposals for Session Addressing Data Quality at the 2010 Annual Conference

The Scientific Program Committee is seeking proposals for a special conference session addressing data quality. The purpose of the session is to highlight methodologies and “best practices” used to monitor data quality. Examples include:
  • Using indicators to identify problems with data quality (e.g., essential data quality checks that should be routinely employed to monitor data quality);
  • Tools (e.g., visualizations, dashboards) developed to audit data quality;
  • Techniques for anticipating changes to data quality when data sources or data elements change over time;
  • Procedures for resolving data quality challenges. 

Proposals should be brief (no longer than 1 page, 12 pt font) and are due no later than September 3rd, 2010*. The format of the session (e.g., panel of speakers, oral presentations, discussion forum, poster presentations, working group) will be chosen based on the number of quality submissions received. Proposals for this session will be reviewed by the Scientific Program Committee, and you will receive notification of a decision by October 15, 2010.

 *For full submission guidelines, please visit the ISDS website.  

03 August 2010

Upcoming Book Release: "Biosurveillance: Methods and Case Studies"

This entry is being cross-posted from Biosurveillance 2.0, a blog by Taha Kass-Hout, MD, MS, who recently announced the upcoming release of his new book, Biosurveillance: Methods and Case Studies.

My new book on Biosurveillance is scheduled for release on September 17th, 2010. The book:
  • Provides a synopsis of current state-of-the-art practices as well as a starting point for the development and evaluation of new methods
  • Covers applied research and complete case studies in biosurveillance that focus on local, regional and national implementation
  • Presents techniques from other fields, such as intelligence and engineering
  • Explores future innovations in biosurveillance, including advances in analytical methods, modeling, and simulation
  • Addresses policy and organizational issues related to the construction of biosurveillance systems

While having its roots in 21st Century infectious disease threats to health on a grand scale, biosurveillance has come to encompass a broader scope of the science and practice of managing population health-related data and information so that effective action can be taken to mitigate adverse health effects from urgent threats. This expansive scope is reflected in the diverse collection of reports and perspectives brought together in this text, Biosurveillance." — From the Foreword by Daniel M. Sosin, MD, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Table of Contents
  • Timeliness of Data Sources, Lynne Dailey, PhD, MPH, BSc.
  • Simulating and Evaluating Biosurveillance Datasets, Thomas H. Lotze, Galit Shmueli, Lotze, Shmueli, Yahav Inbal Yahav, and Robert H. Smith
  • Remote Sensing-Based Modeling of Infectious Disease Transmission, Richard K. Kiang, Farida Adimi, Radina P. Soebiyanto
  • Integrating Human Capabilities into Biosurveillance Systems: A Study of Biosurveillance and Situation Awareness, Cheryl A. Bolstad, Haydee M. Cuevas, Jingjing Wang-Costello, Mica R. Endsley, Walton John Page, and Taha Kass-Hout
  • The Role of Zoos in Biosurveillance, Julia Chosy, PhD, Janice Mladonick, and Tracey McNamara, DVM
  • HealthMap, Amy L. Sonricker, MPH, Clark C. Freifeld, Mikaela Keller, PhD, John S. Brownstein, PhD
  • The Role of SMS Text Messaging to Improve Public Health Response, Elizabeth Avery Gomez, Ph.D.
  • Using Prediction Markets to Forecast Infectious Diseases, Philip M. Polgreen, MD, MPH, and Forrest D. Nelson, PhD
  • The Role of Data Aggregation in Public Health and Food Safety Surveillance, Artur Dubrawski
  • Introduction to China’s Infectious Disease Surveillance System, Jin Shuigao and Ma Jiaqi
  • Biosurveillance and Public Health Practice: A Case Study of North Carolina’s NC DETECT System, S. Cornelia Kaydos-Daniels, PhD, MSPH; Lucia Rojas Smith, DrPH,, MPH; Amy I. Ising, MSIS; Clifton Barnett, MSIS; Tonya Farris, MPH;, Anna E. Waller, ScD; and Scott Wetterhall, MD, MPH
  • Aberration Detection in R Illustrated by Danish mortality monitoring, Michael Höhl and, Anne Mazick
  • User Requirements toward a Real-Time Biosurveillance Program, Nuwan Waidyanatha and Suma Prashant
  • Using Common Alerting Protocol to Support a Real-Time Biosurveillance Program in Sri Lanka and India, Gordon A. Gow and Nuwan Waidyanatha
  • Navigating the Information Storm: Web-Based Global Health Surveillance in BioCaster, Nigel Collier, Son Doan, Reiko Matsuda Goodwin, John McCrae, Mike Conway, Mika Shigematsu, and Ai Kawazoe
  • A Snapshot of Situation Awareness: Using the NC DETECT System to Monitor the 2007 Heat Wave, David B. Rein
  • Linking Detection to Effective Response, Scott F. Wetterhall, MD, MPH, Taha A. Kass-Hout, MD, MS , and David L. Buckeridge, MD, PhD
By reading this book, I hope you reap from it lessons and insights to apply in your work for a lifetime.

27 July 2010

First International Conference on Animal Health Surveillance

Thanks to a fellow ISDS member, we have received information on the first ever International Conference on Animal Health Surveillance, taking place from May 17-20, 2011, in Lyon, France.

Here is the information from the first announcement:

Surveillance: Science and Policy

The Aim
The aim of the conference is to gather scientists and policy makers working in the area of animal health surveillance to exchange new ideas and better understand the challenges and opportunities that each group faces, and to develop solutions for future surveillance approaches under considerations of efficiency, cost-effectiveness and quality that fulfil the needs of both policy and science. The meeting is timed immediately before the General Session of the OIE to be held in Paris the week after. It is hoped that policy makers (including Chief Veterinary Officers and their technical staff members) will take this opportunity to both guide surveillance research to meet their needs and learn how new techniques may influence the way policy develops in the future.

The Venue

The conference will be held in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Lyon, gastronomic capital of France. Presentations will take place in the baroque Chapelle de la Trinité, built between 1617 and 1622 as the chapel of the Jesuit Grand Collège. This magnificent space is in the heart of Lyon, within walking distance of dozens of hotels catering to all budgets, and hundreds of restaurants catering to all palettes. 2011 marks the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the world’s first veterinary school in Lyon, and this meeting has joined with the World Veterinary Year organizers to celebrate the event.

The Target Population
•Scientists – those using or researching new techniques and tools for surveillance
•Practitioners – those responsible for implementing surveillance programs and wishing to be updated on the latest opportunities and developments
•Policy makers – those responsible for setting national, regional and international standards for surveillance The focus of the meeting is on animal health surveillance, but those working in zoonoses and human health surveillance are welcome to attend and to share their experiences.

The Dates
September 2010: First call for paper
1 December 2010: Deadline for submission of papers
1 February 2011: Notification of acceptance 17.
May 2011: Begin on Conference

The Website
Please visit the conference website to download the conference brochure and register your email address in order to receive further information.

12 July 2010

2010 Conference Registration Now Open

Registration and abstract submission are now open for ISDS 2010, the 9th Annual Conference of the International Society for Disease Surveillance. The conference will take place on December 1st & 2nd, 2010 at the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. A full day pre-conference workshop will be held on November 30th.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Enhancing the Synergy Between Research, Informatics and Practice in Public Health.” The conference is designed to provide researchers, informaticists, and public health practitioners with the latest developments in the design, implementation, use, and evaluation of biosurveillance systems.

By registering before September 6th, 2010, you can take advantage of our early registration rate. In addition, you can save on your registration fee by becoming an ISDS member.

Information on conference registration, hotel room reservations and abstract submission can be found on the 2010 Conference page. Please email Conference Information with any questions.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2010 annual conference!

Best wishes,

The ISDS Conference Committee

17 June 2010

Upcoming Webinar on "Disaster Surveillance: Lessons Learned from the Field"

On Monday, June 28th, the Public Health Practice Committee is hosting a webinar on "Disaster Surveillance: Lessons Learned from the Field," from 12:30 - 1:30 pm EST. There will be a 45 minute presentation followed by a 15 minute Q&A session.

Speakers and Topics:

Aaron Kite-Powell, Florida Department of Public Health: Overview of disaster surveillance experiences in Florida - hurricanes, fires, and evacuees

Amy Roach, South Carolina Department of Public Health: Airport surveillance - "on the ground" during the airport screen for evacuees from Haiti

Dan Drociuk, South Carolina Department of Public Health: Communication and information sharing - State to State interactions "pre-event"

Register here.

14 June 2010

2010 Call for Abstracts

Ninth Annual Conference of the International Society for Disease Surveillance
Enhancing the synergy between research, informatics, and practice in public health

December 1-2, 2010
The Canyons Resort, Park City, Utah

Submissions of original work are now being accepted for presentation at the 9th annual International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS) conference to be held in Park City, Utah, December 1-2, 2010. This year’s conference will focus on enhancing the synergy between research, informatics, and practice in public health. Topics that address the conference theme and/or international surveillance and collaboration are especially encouraged.

The ISDS Conference is the premier annual scientific gathering for researchers and practitioners in public health, epidemiology, health policy, biostatistics and mathematical modeling, informatics, computer science, and related fields focused on biosurveillance and emerging challenges to public health practice. The conference will feature internationally renowned speakers from health departments, leading universities, government agencies, and top industrial organizations.

The four themes for abstract submissions are:
•Public health surveillance
•Analytics/research methodologies
•Informatics (applications/practice and architecture/integration/interoperability)
•Applications of methodologies to new domains

Submit your abstract online

Questions regarding the call for abstracts may be sent to the Scientific Program Chair, Atar Baer.

We look forward to receiving your submissions and to seeing you in Park City in December at the annual conference.

Best regards,

The International Society for Disease Surveillance

Important Dates:
Web site open for submissions: June 21, 2010
Submission deadline: September 3, 2010 (midnight Eastern U.S.)
Authors notified of acceptance: October 15th, 2010
Pre-conference workshop: November 30, 2010
Conference: December 1-2, 2010

11 June 2010

Upcoming Webinar: Rates of Hospital-Acquired Respiratory Illness in Bangladeshi Tertiary Care Hospitals

The ISDS Global Outreach and Research Committees are pleased to welcome Emily Gurley as the guest speaker for their next joint webinar. She will present on her recently published work entitled, "Rates of Hospital-Acquired Respiratory Illness in Bangladeshi Tertiary Care Hospitals: Results from a Low-Cost Pilot Surveillance Strategy":

Respiratory infections can spread quickly in crowded hospitals with limited infection control infrastructure, and these facilities typically also lack surveillance systems to detect hospital acquired disease. We piloted a simple, syndromic surveillance strategy for hospital acquired respiratory infections in 3 tertiary care hospitals in Bangladesh and found that clusters of disease were frequent and that approximately 6 such infection occurred per 1000 patient days at risk. This low-tech surveillance strategy could be used in resource-poor hospital settings to better define burden of disease and evaluate the impact of infection control interventions.

The webinar will take place on Tuesday, July 6th from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST.

Register here.

04 June 2010

ISDS/Distribute Presentations at CSTE Annual Conference

At the 2010 CSTE Annual Conference, running from June 6th to June 10th in Portland, Oregon, there will be two presentations by ISDS members on the Distribute Project:

Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 4:30 pm PST:
ISDS President David Buckeridge will be giving an oral presentation entitled, "Innovations in public health surveillance: Lessons learned from the rapid expansion of the Distribute project to support H1N1 surveillance." This presentation is a part of the Surveillance/Informatics I session on Innovations & Progress in Data Integration and Sharing.

Tuesday, June 8th, 10:00 am PST:

ISDS Board members Bill Lober and John Brownstein, along with Taha Kass-Hout, Acting Deputy Director at CDC, will be hosting a poster session entitled, "An innovative, distributed surveillance informatics infrastructure for H1N1 and beyond." This poster (Board #701) is a part of the Surveillance/Informatics session in Exhibit Hall A.

Full agenda available here.

28 May 2010

June 2010 Literature Review Presentation

The International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS) Research Committee is happy to annouce an online webinar by Anne Presanis, Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge, UK, presenting their paper "The Severity of Pandemic H1N1 Influenza in the United States, from April to July 2009: A Bayesian Analysis" published in the December 2009 issue of PLoS Medicine.

The presentation will take place during the bi-monthly Literature Review call on Thursday, June 24th, 2010 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EST.

Register here.

11 May 2010

Research Committee Webinar: Understanding the Spectrum of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Data Sources and Their Variation By Community

The ISDS Research Committee is hosting a webinar on Thursday, May 27th, from 12:00-1:30 pm EST on EMS data sources.

There is a saying in EMS that if you've "seen one EMS system, then you've seen one EMS system". Many EMS systems have good or even great data for surveillance and research, but while there are some standards developing for EMS data formats and sharing, very few systems have the capability to share data using them.

Presenters will discuss the current state of 9-1-1/EMS dispatch and field electronic medical records systems, and the changing impact of the official and informal standards and variations of data seen in different communities. In addition, research using EMS data to predict hospital ED overload, and EMS correlation with ILI will also be addressed.

Moderated by: Todd Stout, FirstWatch


Abey Kuruvilla, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Business & Technology
University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Christopher H O Olola, Ph.D.
Director of Biomedical Informatics and Research
National Academies of Emergency Dispatch

Register here.

05 May 2010

Save the Date: ISDS 9th Annual Conference, Park City, UT

We are pleased to announce the International Society for Disease Surveillance's Ninth Annual Conference taking place this year from November 30th to December 2nd, 2010 in Park City, Utah.

This year’s theme is “Enhancing the Synergy Between Research, Informatics and Practice in Public Health.”

We encourage you to join your colleagues in public health, epidemiology, informatics, health policy, biostatistics, and related fields at this event. The conference will offer informative presentations and lively discussions in the following thematic areas:

• Research/Methodology
• Informatics
• Public Health Practice
• Surveillance in New Domains

Please check the website regularly at for details on registration and abstract submissions.

29 April 2010

Global Outreach Webinar: “Developing Strategic Learning Capabilities in Regional Disease Surveillance Networks”

The ISDS Global Outreach Committee will be hosting a special webinar presented by the Global Health and Security Initiative entitled "Developing Strategic Learning Capabilities in Regional Disease Surveillance Networks" on Monday, May 17th from 10:00-11:00 AM EST. Louise Gresham and colleagues will be speaking about the CHORDS Project and its role in developing IHR competencies around the world.

Full event details including registration and speaker information available here.

20 April 2010

Announcing the 2010 Public Health Practice and Research Syndromic Surveillance Challenge

The International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS) announces the 2010 Public Health Practice and Research Syndromic Surveillance Challenge:

Consistent with the theme of this year’s annual ISDS conference, the public health and research challenge aims to enhance the synergy between research, informatics, and practice in public health. Through May 15th, 2010, public health practitioners are asked to submit disease surveillance practice and research issues or challenges they are facing (e.g., “I need to have a measure of excess morbidity due to a-b-c,” or “I need a visualization that will help me achieve x-y-z”). Submitted challenges must be those that can be addressed using a dataset that is publicly available, or contributed by the challenger, with Distribute project data being one of the sources. The hope is that novel approaches to visualizing or analyzing data will be developed that can be applied to address challenges that public health practitioners are facing.

ISDS will provide publicly available datasets and will supply a Distribute data set for researchers and informaticists to work with. Individuals or groups will have 3 months to work on solutions to the challenges posted by practitioners. In August, the solutions will be presented to practitioners, who will have an opportunity to assess and comment on the best solution(s) to the challenges they are facing. The Scientific Program Committee will make the final selection of winners.

An important challenge requirement is that all work developed for the contest is clearly and efficiently presented. Those who respond to the technical challenges must be willing to make their work available to the scientific and public health communities at large. Authorship could come in the form of an ISDS online publication (ie, through a Knol or open access online journal), a conference presentation slot, or special speaking engagement depending on the quality of work that the contest delivers.

The Scientific Program Committee hopes that this contest will stimulate interest and will induce contribution of other challenge problems for future consideration.

Data Sets
The contest will provide datasets, with examples including the following:
- Sample Distribute aggregate febrile, respiratory and influenza-like illness (ILI) syndrome file
- Google Flu Trends ILI search query index aggregate file
- US regional aggregate sentinel surveillance ILI file
- Sample datasets provided by challengers, specific to their proposed challenge

Contest Rules
• Public health practitioners who wish to declare a challenge must do so by May 15th. Please send an email to Don Olson with the technical challenge you are posing. Be sure to include as much background information and detail as possible as well as an email address where you can be reached if there are follow-up questions about the issue you are raising. Challenges that cannot be addressed using the available data will be disqualified.
• Those who are interested in developing solutions to the technical challenge must register their intent to participate by May 30th by sending an email to Don Olson. The challenge will proceed only if a sufficient number of people have registered. The contest will be canceled and you will receive notification by June 7th if there has not been sufficient interest. However, if you are still interested in working on a solution to the technical challenges posed, please contact Don for follow-up through the ISDS Research Committee.
• Depending on the number of technical challenges submitted and the number of people who have registered to develop solutions to these challenges, the Scientific Program Committee may choose to narrow down the number of technical challenges. Again, registrants will be notified by June 1st of the final selection of challenges, which will be posted on the ISDS web site.
• Challenge datasets will be sent to the registrants by June 7th, 2010.
• Participants may submit only one solution per challenge. However, there is no limit to the number of challenges that an individual or group can respond to.
• Successful entrants will provide a sufficiently documented and cited, yet brief methodology. Outputs of proprietary or restricted-access methods should not be used.
• Submissions of solutions should be sent to Don Olson by August 16th, 2010. Please include an explanation of the solution that includes sufficient detail of the methods that would allow someone else to implement them. Code and any accompanying output can be included. The submission need not be formatted for a conference abstract or a publication.
Challenge Timeline:
o May 15 -- Last day for submitting a syndromic analytic challenge
o May 30 -- Last day to register to solve the analytic challenge
o June 1 -- Challenges selected by panel announced
o June 7 -- Challenge datasets sent to participants
o Aug. 16 -- Final day for solutions to be submitted
o Sept 17 -- Winner(s) announced

Winner Selection
• Each team will be evaluated separately on each of the technical challenges that practitioners submitted. The solutions will be posted on the ISDS web site in August and public health practitioners will have a three-week period to review the solutions and provide their input to the Scientific Program Committee on the best submission.
• The Scientific Program Committee will judge submissions based on scientific merit, methodology, and the degree to which practitioners feel the solution meets their needs. Winners will be announced by September 17th, 2010.
• In an upcoming meeting, the 2010 ISDS Scientific Program Committee will discuss possible plans for a special session at this year's conference based on the contest. We hope that all of the entrants will be able to attend and participate in the conference which will be held November 30 - December 2, 2010 in Park City, Utah. Please check www.syndromic.org for conference details and updates as they become available.

Winning Prize
Apart from the bragging rights, the team submitting the winning entry will receive a $300 cash prize and the “2010 ISDS Public Health Practice and Research Syndromic Surveillance Challenge Award” at the annual conference in Park City, Utah.

30 March 2010

Research Committee Update: March Webinar Recording and April Literature Review

The recording of the Research Committee's webinar on "Overview and Public Health Surveillance Utility of Poison Center Data" is now available for viewing.

Looking ahead, the Literature Review subcommittee will be hosting a presentation by Michael A. Horst, PhD, MPHS, MS, whose paper "Observing the Spread of Common Illnesses Through a Community: Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Surveillance" recently appeared in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

The subcommittee found this article particularly important because it represents an initiative to link health risk mapping with cluster detection methods that many health monitors employ. It is a link between classical spatial epidemiology and the ad-hoc methods needed for day-to-day surveillance.

The presentation will take place on Thursday, April 22nd at 12:00 pm EST.

PHPC Webinar: Integration of Reported and Syndromic Disease System Information

For its March meeting, the Public Health Practice Committee hosted a webinar on "Integration of Reported and Syndromic Disease System Information."

This webinar was initiated by ISDS member Amy Ising, and presented by Aaron-Kite Powell, MS, Surveillance Epidemiologist in the Bureau of Epidemiology at the Florida Department of Health.

Aaron Kite-Powell gave an overview regarding how Florida is incorporating visualizations of their reportable disease data into their syndromic surveillance system. The presentation was followed by a general discussion regarding the need for and benefits of comparing - on a regular, systematic basis - reportable disease data and syndromic surveillance data.

As a follow up to the discussion, we would like to invite further comments on this post, especially around the following:

Is anyone presenting reportable disease data and syndromic data in the same interface? If so, how? For example, are you incorporating aggregate reportable disease data into your syndromic system (as is FL DoH) or are you making syndromic information available in your reportable disease system? If not, do you have plans to? Why? Why not?

View webinar recording

10 March 2010

Research Committee March Webinar: "Overview and Public Health Surveillance Utility of Poison Center Data"

The ISDS Research Committee will be hosting a webinar, "Overview and Public Health Surveillance Utility of Poison Center Data," on Thursday, March 25th, 2010 from 11:00 am - 12:30 pm US EST.

Jonathan Colvin, Assistant Director, Drug and Poison Information Center

Along with two prominent ISDS members experienced in the public health application of these data:

Bill Storm, Syndromic Surveillance Epidemiologist, Ohio Department of Health

Amy Ising, NC DETECT Program Director, Dept of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Register here

Meaningful Use Webinar Slides & Presentation Now Available

If you weren't able to join ISDS and the Distribute Community of Practice for our "Meaningful Use" webinar last week, the slides and recording are now available online.



Please don't forget to submit your feedback on this important topic to us by Friday, March 12th! The ISDS Board of Directors will be incorporating your input into their final recommendation.

04 March 2010

ISDS Seeks Comments on the Proposed Rules for Meaningful Use

Two proposed regulations from ONCHIT and CMS provide certification criteria and measures for implementing the first stage of electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs enacted under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). These programs will provide reimbursements to hospitals and providers who become "meaningful users" of EHR technology. Under the proposed regulations, one goal of meaningful use (MU) is to improve population and public health.

The ISDS Board will submit comments on the proposed regulations by the March 15, 2010 deadline. In particular, ISDS Board wants to focus their comments on two proposed certification criteria and measures (or tests) that impact the ability of public health authorities to conduct surveillance using syndromic or electronic health care data. These can be viewed in this document.

ISDS is currently seeking input from ISDS membership and the Distribute CoP on these criteria and measures. Input will be completely voluntary and confidential, and the information will be used to assemble a well informed and robust commentary from the ISDS Board. Please take 5-10 minutes to complete our on-line comment collection form.

To learn more about Meaningful Use, please register for our 30 minute webinar, "Meaningful Use: What it is and why it matters" This webinar will help you gain a better understanding of Meaningful Use, how it may impact your surveillance work, and how you can work with ISDS to represent your perspective and that of your local or state health agency.

Please let us know your thoughts by submitting your comments, attending the webinar, or replying to this blog post.

Best Regards,
Charlie Ishikawa
Community of Practice Coordinator, Distribute

Special Webinar Event On Meaningful Use: What it is and Why it Matters

Title: Meaningful Use: What it is and why it matters
Date: Friday, March 5, 2010
Time: 3:00 PM - 3:30 PM EST

Register here
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Please join ISDS and our expert panelists, Art Davidson (Denver Health) and Julia Gunn (Boston Public Health Commission), for a 30 minute webinar on Meaningful Use and electronic health record technology. Participating in this webinar will help you gain a better understanding of Meaningful Use, how it may impact your surveillance work, and how you can work with ISDS to represent your perspective and that of your local or state health agency.

On March 15th, 2010 ISDS will submit comments to the Federal government on the proposed measures and certification criteria for Meaningful Use in electronic health record technology. ISDS is seeking comments from members and the Distribute CoP on those measures and criteria that impact the availability of syndromic or electronic health care data for public health authorities.

Please submit your comments using our on-line survey.

The survey will remain open until noon on 3/12/2010.

01 March 2010

2009 Davies Award Recipients to Speak at HIMSS10

In September 2009, ISDS Board Director Julia Gunn (Boston Public Health Commission) and ISDS member Art Davidson (Denver Public Health) accepted 2009 Davies Awards of Excellence on behalf of their organizations for their use of electronic health records (EHRs) in public health surveillance. Both are contributors to the Distribute Project, and will be presenting at the HIMSS10 Conference this week.

On Tuesday, March 2nd from 2:15-3:15 pm, Gunn and Davidson will give a talk entitled "Beyond Implementation: Innovative Public Health Uses of EHRs" (Session 129) as a part of the education series taking place at this conference. Their talk is one of several in a series providing insight on what it took to win a Davies Award in 2009.

Earlier entry on BPHC and the 2009 Davies

19 February 2010

February PHPC Meeting: Norovirus Surveillance

The next Public Health Practice Committee meeting will take place on on Monday, February 22nd from 12:30-1:30 pm EST.

There will be a presentation by Ben Lopman, MSc, PhD of the CDC (DVD/NCIRD/CCID) on norovirus surveillance, followed by a discussion and a Distribute update.

28 January 2010

ISDS and the Distribute Project Highlighted in "Ready or Not? 2009" Report

In a report entitled Ready or Not? 2009, released this December by Trust For America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), both the ISDS and the Distribute Project are highlighted for their work with novel surveillance methodologies.

This report is the seventh in an annual series entitled: Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism, which evaluates America's public health preparedness. Through examination of the country's "ability to respond to health threats and help identify areas of vulnerability," TFAH then "offers a series of recommendations to further strengthen America's emergency preparedness." (See the TFAH's Initiative page on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness for more information.)

On page 25 of the report, the ISDS is mentioned in the section, "Biosurveillance--Real-Time Syndromic Surveillance System," as having "a growing body of evidence" that syndromic surveillance can give earlier notice of an oncoming outbreak than laboratory data. Because syndromic surveillance can provide real-time data across geographic regions and age groups, the report suggests that this type of surveillance could become increasingly important in "delivering effective public health services" in response to an outbreak. There is also mention of the survey done by the ISDS in conjunction with the CDC, ASTHO, NACCHO and CSTE* in 2007 and 2008 to assess syndromic surveillance practices across the country.

Later on, the report mentions the Distribute Project in the context of federal preparedness and the increasing emphasis on real-time biosurveillance and health information technology. While there have been many efforts to enhance biosurveillance since its emergence during the anthrax attacks of 2001, our nation has yet to integrate information sources that, together, could provide a truly real-time picture of population health. In this past year, the work of the National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee and the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT have helped inform the federal approach to preparedness, especially with respect to current discrepancies in reporting structure and funding allocation.

The section, "The Distribute Project: A Novel Approach to Disease Surveillance," highlights how the federal government is supporting our distributed model in order to "enhance national and regional influenza situational awareness." CDC has funded Distribute to continue beyond its proof-of-concept phase, and has helped to increase the participation of state and local health departments by providing them with additional resources for syndromic surveillance. Distribute is featured alongside other already existing systems the federal government is using to monitor H1N1, such as BioSense and ILInet.

It is hoped that with recommendations like those which TFAH lists at the end of its report, such as the need to "modernize disease surveillance systems," the work of the Distribute Project will not only continue, but play an increasing role in both domestic and international biosurveillance.

*Expansion of Acronyms:
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO)
National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO)
Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE)

Post-Webinar Follow Up: Applications of Bayesian Statistics for Biosurveillance

Thanks to all who participated in today's webinar on "Application of Bayesian Statistics for Biosurveillance." The Research Committee would like to hear your comments and thoughts about the webinar, so please join in the discussion by leaving a comment on this entry.

***Note: To leave a comment, you may connect with our blog in a number of ways, including using an OpenID or a Google account. Regardless of the mechanism you choose, please be sure to leave us your name and email along with the comment.

Slides have been posted on the ISDS wiki, with the recording to follow shortly.

As always, please let us know if you would like to become more involved in the Research Committee's activities, by joining our either our committee list or webinar announcements list. Topic suggestions for future webinars are welcome, as well.

Obama Mentions Public Health Surveillance in his State of the Union Address

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama included public health surveillance in his administration's agenda when he said, "we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more efficiently to bioterrorism or an infectious disease - a plan that will counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad." Thank you, Mr. Obama, for acknowledging the significance of the work done by the ISDS and many other public health institutions!

Previously, Obama's plan for national security was outlined by US Secretary of State Ellen Taucher at the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva, Switzerland this past December. In her "Address to the Annual Meeting of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention," one of the priorities highlighted was the plan to strengthen global disease surveillance.

Taucher mentioned that natural disease surveillance is a critical component of bio-security. In addition, as a part of the CDC's new collaboration with the WHO on implementing IHRs, a meeting will occur during the summer to "[look] at new technologies and new approaches to build the core capacities on disease surveillance needed under the IHRs."

19 January 2010

Research Committee Webinar on "Applications of Bayesian Statistics for Biosurveillance"

The ISDS Research Committee will be hosting a topical webinar on: "Applications of Bayesian Statistics for Biosurveillance," to address questions including:

* How can I combine recent trends with historical data behavior for improved population health visualization?

* How can Bayesian statistics be used to make classical alerting algorithms more relevant to the current data?

* How can analytical methods clarify the use of newly available, multidimensional, clinical evidence from electronic health records and other data sources?

At a special time to accommodate an international panel:

Rochelle Watkins, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia
David Banks, Duke University
Owen Devine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Greg Cooper, University of Pittsburgh RODS Laboratory

Time: Thursday, January 28 at 7 PM, US Eastern Time (Friday, January 29 at 8 AM, Australia)

Agenda: 4 short presentations followed by discussion

Register for the Webinar here

04 January 2010

Announcing a New Collaborative Site on Syndromic Surveillance from Chief Complaints

ISDS member Wendy Chapman has recently developed a new collaborative page on the ISDS wiki on "Syndromic Surveillance from Chief Complaints."

Visit the page

The new page contains:

* bibliography of publications on chief complaint vocabularies,
classification, and surveillance
* links to consensus syndrome definitions
* links to chief complaint classifiers
* powerpoint presentations and other educational material on using and
evaluating chief complaints for surveillance

Please browse the site and add any resources or information you want to share!