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)

1 comment:

  1. Note the posting - http://syndromic.org/projects/meaningful-use

    Michael Coletta