14 December 2012

2012 ISDS Conference: Best Poster Award

The ISDS annual conference is the premier event dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of disease surveillance. This year’s theme was 'Expanding Collaborations to Chart a New Course in Public Health Surveillance' and it highlighted the importance of working together across agencies, sectors, and disciplines to improve surveillance methods and population health outcomes. The 2012 Conference was held at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina in San Diego, CA, December 4th-5th. One of the sessions that best captured the theme was the 2012 ISDS Poster Session.

2012 ISDS Conference Best Poster Award Winner.
We had a record number of abstracts submitted for presentation at the 2012 ISDS Conference and, among these, 94 were accepted for poster presentation. Every year, ISDS presents an award for the best poster. This year, all Conference attendees were given the opportunity to vote for the poster that they felt was the 'best.' 

There were many exceptional posters, making it a very competitive process. However, a winner was chosen and was announced at the end of the 2012 ISDS Conference - the poster New Strategy to Monitor and Evaluate Laboratory Biosafety Programs' presented by Heather Meeks, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

ISDS congratulates Dr. Meeks and her co-authors on this achievement. For more information on the poster topic, please click here.

10 December 2012

Please Comment: PHIN Messaging Guide for Syndromic Surveillance Release 1.3

The syndromic surveillance stakeholder community is invited to provide comments on Release 1.3 of the PHIN Messaging Guide for Syndromic Surveillance now through December 21, 2012.

Over the last few months ISDS, in partnership and with the support of the Division of Informatics Solutions and Operations (OSELS) of the CDC, has been working to revise the PHIN Messaging Guide for Syndromic Surveillance (Guide). The Guide provides messaging specifications for emergency department and inpatient settings for select ADT and ORU (provided by our colleagues at the Washington State Department of Health) message types. The Guide was first released in 2011 as an emergency department and urgent care center messaging guide and is now being expanded to incorporate inpatient settings as well as stakeholder feedback on prior Guide releases.
Release 1.3 of the Messaging Guide provides a conformance profile for EHR Meaningful Use certification. It also includes an important update that creates a “Hospital Messaging Guide” incorporating Emergency Department, Urgent Care and Hospital Inpatient specifications. The goal of this Guide is to provide HL7 messaging specifications for hospitals providing clinical data to a public health agency for syndromic surveillance. This goal contrasts with that of the recently released ISDS Recommendations because it focuses on the technical specifications for providing the recommended data elements rather than the reasoning behind the data recommendations.

The new Messaging Guide Release 1.3 will improve upon prior releases by:

  • Clarifying ambiguities from Release 1.0
  • Responding to stakeholder feedback on prior releases
  • Incorporating guidelines recommended by the ISDS Meaningful Use Workgroup for inpatient syndromic surveillance data
  • Facilitating the formation of syndromic surveillance data exchange between hospitals (now including inpatient) and public health agencies
  • Consolidating and clarifying hospital EHR conformance requirements for Meaningful Use certification

How to provide comments:
Stakeholder input helps ensure that the Guide will have widespread utility to facilitate both EHR development and the implementation of hospital-based syndromic surveillance systems. Following this community comment period ending on 12/21, the Guide will be revised further, and a finalized version will be released in the spring of 2013.
We encourage everyone interested in this initiative to provide comments on the Messaging Guide Release 1.3. You may provide feedback via an online survey available here or by emailing your comments to Becky Zwickl, MPH, ISDS Public Health Analyst, at bzwickl@syndromic.org. The comment period ends on Friday, December 21, 2012, 11:59 pm EST.

27 November 2012

2012 ISDS Conference Highlight: 2012 ISDS Conference Abstracts

With whom will you collaborate next?

Peer-reviewed Abstracts are an important product of the ISDS Annual Conferences. Not only do they make up a large portion of the body of work on best practices and innovations in disease surveillance, the 2012Conference Abstracts (pdf) also highlight this year’s conference theme ‘Expanding Collaborations to Chart a New Course in Public Health Surveillance.’

Figure 1. The largest connected component of the
2012 ISDS Abstract author network. The circles
represent authors, with the color indicating primary
author affiliation. Lines are drawn between co-authors.
Looking at authorship of the 2012 accepted abstracts, there are a large number of inter-department and inter-agency collaborations (Figure 1), but there is room for expansion. This can be visualized by comparing the largest connected component of an authorship network visualization (Figure 1) versus the entire network (Figure 2). Each circle in the figures represents an author and the colors represent the author’s first affiliation. The lines connect co-authors. As you can see, there are many smaller groupings and groupings with homogeneous colors in Figure 2.

The ISDS Annual Conference has commonly been cited as the place where unique collaborative projects originate, and this may be due to the variety of stakeholder groups in attendance. The ISDS Conference draws professionals from a broad range of disciplines— epidemiology and computer science to mathematical modeling and health policy.

So, view the 2012Conference Abstracts (pdf) and come to San Diego, CA, prepared to discover your next collaboration!

Figure 2. Full 2012 ISDS Abstract author network. The circles represent authors, with the color indicating primary author affiliation. Lines are drawn between co-authors.

To find out more about the 2012 ISDS Conference, please visit: http://www.syndromic.org/annual-conference/2012.

Written by: Tera Reynolds, MPH, Program Manager, ISDS

Nominations by Nov 30: New CDC Advisory Committee

The CDC is looking for nominees for a new committee, the National Public Health Surveillance Biosurveillance Advisory Committee (NPHSB AC). ISDS would like to share the following message with more information about this committee and how to submit nominations. We encourage the ISDS community to self-nominate or nominate others for this unique opportunity to play a role in influencing the pressing public health surveillance and biosurveillance issues of today. 

-----Start Message-----

Dear  Partners:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is forming a new committee, the National Public Health Surveillance and Biosurveillance Advisory Committee (NPHSB AC) with the recent release of a Federal Register Notice (FRN) http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-10-03/html/2012-24423.htm.   As the Program Office charged with supporting the formation and work of the NPHSB AC, we are seeking your recommendations for members to serve on the NPHSB AC. 

Your perspective on public health surveillance and biosurveillance is important to CDC and would greatly enhance the work of the NPHSB AC.  The overall scope of the NPHSB AC is reflected in the FRN notice.  The primary focus of the NPHSB AC will address:

  • How to take advantage of the expanding automation of health information
  • How to better coordinate CDC’s multiple surveillance activities and their interface with state and local partners for both routine and urgent situations

It is desired that members of the NPHSB AC be recognized experts in one or more of the six Priority Areas outlined in the National Biosurveillance Strategy for Human Health http://intranet.cdc.gov/osels/phspo/bc/bc_pdf/NBSHH.pdf
which are:

  • Electronic Health Information Exchange
  • Electronic laboratory Information Exchange
  • Unstructured Data
  • Integrated Biosurveillance Information 
  • Global Diseases Detection and Collaboration
  • Biosurveillance Workforce of the Future

The FRN calling for member nominations was released on November 6th.  You can view and print this FRN at the following link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-11-06/pdf/2012-27053.pdf.  Please follow the directions in the FRN and also take the additional step of validating the interest of your nominee(s) in serving prior to submitting their CV for consideration. Nominee submissions are due by November 30, 2012.  

Thanks in advance.


Pamela Diaz, MD
Designated Federal Official, NPHSB AC
Deputy Director (Acting), Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office

07 November 2012

ISDS Releases Meaningful Use Recommendations

The International Society for Disease Surveillance is pleased to present "Electronic Syndromic Surveillance Using Hospital Inpatient and Ambulatory Clinical Care Electronic Health Record Data: Recommendations from the ISDS Meaningful Use Workgroup" (Recommendations). The ISDS Meaningful Use (MUse) Workgroup's Recommendations provide clarity for Stage 2 Meaningful Use, when on-going syndromic surveillance reporting will be required for eligible hospitals. These Recommendations provide a basis for planning and establishing data use relationships between Public Health Agencies and eligible providers while also building upon prior ISDS work by incorporating both lessons learned and broader stakeholder participation.
The Recommendations were developed in an open, iterative, and consensus-driven manner overseen by a multi-stakeholder workgroup of experts in public health, clinical care, medical informatics, and health information technology. Stakeholder feedback was gathered at the initial stages of development as well after Draft Guidelines and Revised Guidelines were released. In the end, 7 organizations and approximately 100 individuals participated in the development process. 
ISDS is grateful to the MUse Workgroup and HLN Consulting, LLC for their shared expertise, talents, and time over the one-year period that the Recommendations were developed. ISDS also thanks the subject matter experts, stakeholders, readers, and ISDS Board of Directors who provided thoughtful help and consideration during this process. Finally, thank you to the Division of Informatics Solutions and Operations, OSELS, CDC for making this work possible. ISDS is grateful for the on-going partnership and support of the CDC in convening the surveillance stakeholder community for expert, consensus recommendations about syndromic surveillance for Meaningful Use. 
Please visit the ISDS website for more information about the Recommendations and their development process.

22 October 2012

2012 ISDS Conference Highlight: Plenary Panel on Successful Collaborations

The ISDS Annual Conference is the premier event dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of biosurveillance. The 2012 Conference will be held at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina in San Diego, CA, December 4-5th, 2012, with Pre-Conference Workshops on December 3rd. This year’s theme, Expanding Collaborations to Chart a New Course in Public Health Surveillance, will highlight the importance of working together across agencies, sectors, and disciplines to improve surveillance methods and population health outcomes. No session addresses this year’s theme quite like the plenary panel: Highlighting Successful Collaborations.

Map of Texas-Mexico Border Area from the
Texas Department of State Health Services website
The first panel presenter, Captain Stephen H. Waterman, is the Lead of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine’s (DGMQ) U.S.-Mexico Unit at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. The Division’s Public Health Mission is “To reduce morbidity and mortality among immigrants, refugees, travelers, expatriates, and other globally mobile populations, and to prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases through regulation, science, research, preparedness, and response." In this capacity it is imperative for Captain Waterman to successfully collaborate with public health professionals in multiple U.S. jurisdictions, as well as internationally. Specifically, he works with staff at San Diego, CA and El Paso, Texas quarantine stations, CDC headquarters in Atlanta, GA, and the Mexico Ministry of Health Directorate of Epidemiology in Mexico City.

In order to optimize the productivity of these partnerships, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Secretariat of Health of Mexico developed ‘Guidelines for Cooperation on Public Health Events of Mutual Interest (pdf),’ which are published on the DGMQ’s webpages. These guidelines are based on the following general principles: (1) the need to share information; (2) timely sharing of information; (3) commitment to providing high quality information (i.e., accuracy and completeness); (4) clearly defined communication pathways; (5) confidentiality, protection of privacy, and dissemination of information; (6) joint action to respond to a public health event; (7) consideration of differences between health systems; and (8) respect for the sovereignty and laws of each country. Captain Waterman brings his considerable expertise to this panel and is sure to provide attendees with insights into how to successfully collaborate.

Screen shot of Malaria Atlas Project parasite rate map with key.
The second panel presenter, Simon I. Hay, is Professor of Epidemiology and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He investigates spatial and temporal features of infectious disease epidemiology in order to facilitate the rational implementation of disease control and intervention strategies. Professor Hay developed and manages the Malaria Atlas Project, which is an international collaboration of researchers that aim to improve the cartography of malaria (project funded by Wellcome Trust). Participating researchers collaborate to develop new and innovative methods of mapping malaria risk with the goal of producing a comprehensive range of maps and estimates. One of the main tenants of this project is open and free access of information and resources (available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License). To this end, you can view and use the Malaria Atlas Project data yourself by clicking here. This project has been extremely successful and provides a potential model for other collaboration-based projects.

To find out more about the 2012 ISDS Conference, please visit our website. The detailed agenda is now available here.

Written by: Tera Reynolds, MPH, Program Manager, ISDS

BioSense 2.0 Program Update: Fall 2012

BioSense 2.0: Summer Successes
BioSense Program Awards Cooperative Agreements to 35 Jurisdictions
The BioSense Program awarded more than $7M to 35 applicants out of the pool of applicants, which included state, local, territorial and tribal (SLTT) groups.  This is the first year that the BioSense Program issued its own cooperative agreement opportunity to SLTT groups. These agreements were awarded in September 2012, and will be funded each year for 3 years (FY2012-2014).  Funding for these agreements came out of technology cost savings realized by the program this year, as it was the first in HHS to move completely to the secure Internet GovCloud.

BioSense 2.0 Builds Community Governance
The BioSense 2.0 Governance group has also been active developing feedback mechanisms for the community, and will be working on developing their own section of the BioSense 2.0 information site (www.biosense2.org).  The governance is comprised of members of local and state health departments, CDC, other federal agencies and partners, and private vendor groups.

Jurisdictions Sign Data Use Agreements to join BioSense 2.0
As of October 2012, 32 jurisdictions have signed a Data Use Agreement to participate in BioSense 2.0, 24 more than ever participated in BioSense 1.0.  These jurisdictions encompass a variety of perspectives, as well as a range of different experience levels.  Many have never performed syndromic surveillance before, and are now increasing their capacity and ability to better respond to public health issues through funding from the BioSense Program.  Onboarding and technical assistance is performed by the CDC BioSense Team on a daily basis, and is available to all State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Health departments by contacting info@biosen.se.     

BioSense 2.0: Moving Forward, Fall 2012

BioSense Program Begins “Onboarding” Jurisdictions
BioSense 2.0 will continue to enhance national biosurveillance capabilities and all-hazards preparedness by building a system-of-systems in partnership with state and local health jurisdictions.  As on-boarding of syndromic surveillance health data feeds occurs, the technical assistance team will make data connections with minimal health department staff time and resource commitments. BioSense 2.0’s flexible technical specifications make this possible. A wide variety of data file formats and transmission protocols can be received, including HL7 messages from electronic health record technologies certified for Meaningful Use. Syndromic surveillance data from individual hospitals, hospital groups, Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), state and local surveillance systems, and vendor operated surveillance systems are all compatible with the BioSense 2.0 platform. For more information on the technical requirements, please visit www.biosense2.org

What are the initial benefits of BioSense 2.0 to STLT users?
  • Greater capacity for data management and storage
  • Cost saving in information technology and infrastructure
  • Greater and more timely access to regional and national public health surveillance data
  • Greater access to peers for sharing information, knowledge and best practice
  • Greater opportunity for STLTs to develop biosurveillance capabilities and increase situational awareness
To view the complete BioSense 2.0 Program Fall Update, find a pdf of the document here: http://www.syndromic.org/uploads/files/BioSense_Fall%20update_2012-10_final.pdf