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.

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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!