30 July 2012

2012 ISDS Conference Highlight: Planning Update

Expanding Collaborations to Chart a New Course in
Public Health Surveillance

Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina

1380 Harbor Island Drive | San Diego, California 92101

The 2012 ISDS Conference planning is in full force. The Scientific Program Committee is working hard to incorporate all of the great ideas mentioned on 2011 Conference Evaluations and, informally, in conversations with our stakeholders! For example, by popular demand, the 2012 Conference will include more networking and collaboration opportunities than ever before.

Join your colleagues from a broad range of disciplines in highlighting the importance of working together across agencies, sectors, and disciplines in an effort to improve surveillance methods and population health outcomes! With Keynote Addresses from James H. Fowler, University of California, San Diego and Bill Davenhall, ESRI, Inc., this year's ISDS Conference is already shaping up to be the most exciting in ISDS history. 

Be a part of this invigorating agenda! Abstracts are being accepted for individual, oral, poster, panel, and roundtable presentations, as well as system showcase demonstrations. Abstracts that address the conference theme, "Expanding Collaborations to Chart a New Course in Public Health Surveillance", and that relate to the following tracks are strongly encouraged:
  • Analytic Methods
  • Informatics
  • Policy
  • Public/Population health surveillance

Deadline for abstract submission is September 6, 2012. Details can be found here

Full List of Important Dates
Submission Open
May 23, 2012
Submission Deadline
September 6, 2012
Author Notification
October 3, 2012
Registration Open
May 21, 2012
Early Deadline
October 5, 2012
Regular Deadline
November 14, 2012
Late Deadline
December 5, 2012
Last Day for Reduced Rate
November 21, 2012 (5pm PT)
December 3, 2012
December 4-5, 2012

27 July 2012

CDC Discusses Vision for Public Health Surveillance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new MMWR Supplement today, Friday, July 27, 2012, entitled "CDC's Vision for Public Health Surveillance in the 21st Century". This supplement includes several reports that were developed as by-products of the 2009 CDC/ATSDR meeting convened to assess public health surveillance in the U.S. and around the world. These deliberations drew together around 100 CDC/ATSDR scientists and managers to discuss the state of public health surveillance practice and to recommend a strategy to advance the future of public health surveillance. 

As a part of the process to assess public heath surveillance, the CDC/ATSDR leadership conducted a survey that revealed the following top six issues that must be addressed by the public health community to advance public health surveillance in the 21st century: 

  • Lexicon, definitions, and conceptual framework for public health surveillance;
  • Global health surveillance;
  • Roles of information sciences and technological advances in public health surveillance;
  • Public health surveillance work force of the future;
  • Accessing and using data for public health surveillance: legal, policy, ethical, regulatory, and practical concerns related to data sharing; and
  • Analytical challenges for emerging public health surveillance.
These areas of concern were discussed at the 2009 meeting by six workgroups charged with the task of describing and identifying ways to address the challenges and opportunities of each of the topic areas. The outcomes of these deliberations are captured in the reports contained in the current MMWR supplement. 

To review these reports and learn more about the CDC's Vision for Public Health Surveillance in the 21st Century, view the July 27, 2012 MMWR Supplement page or download the pdf document of the current issue. 

July 2012 Literature Review Call

ISDS’s Research Committee hosted another great Literature Review yesterday, July 26, 2012! 

The ISDS Literature Review calls take place bi-monthly and are an opportunity to discuss new journal articles related to biosurveillance. Behind the scenes of the Literature Reviews, the Research Committee leadership meets weekly to narrow down the results of a Scopus search query (developed by Dr. Katie Suda, University of Tennessee) to the most relevant articles. The use of Scopus has improved the range of articles that we have been able to identify - capturing relevant papers from disciplines that were previously missed. Recently, the Literature Review organizers have taken another giant step towards a more efficient, organized, and user-friendly Literature Review process with the addition of a citation manager - Zotero. Using Zotero has not only increased the efficiency for the organizers, but for Literature Review attendees as well. Zotero allows participants to sort by title or author and to search for keywords using tags. We hope that you find Zotero useful for finding the article(s) that you are interested in!

Call Highlights:
The Research Committee gratefully acknowledges two authors for their participation in the July call: Dr. Andrew Fine, Children’s Hospital Boston, and Dr. Erika Samoff, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health. Both authors provided Literature Review participants with the invaluable opportunity to ask questions and learn more about their research. Brief summaries:

Dr. Andrew Fine and his colleagues wrote the article “Improved Diagnostic Accuracy of Group A Streptococcal Pharyngitis With Use of Real-Time Biosurveillance” published in Annals of Internal Medicine. This article highlighted the authors work in testing the benefit of adjusting the conventional Centor score for group A streptococcal pharyngitis using epidemiological data in the form of the recent local proportion positive (RLPP). They conclude that the number of additional true cases diagnosed and the number of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions avoided for false diagnoses demonstrates a distinct advantage to using the epidemiological information. 

Dr. Samoff and her colleagues authored the article “Integration of syndromic surveillance data into public health practice at state and local levels in north Carolina” published in Public Health Reports. This study sought to describe integration of syndromic surveillance data into daily surveillance practice at local health departments (LHDs). In order to achieve this objective, the authors compared the use of syndromic surveillance data and reportable disease data at the state and local levels. The authors conclude that, while the routine use of syndromic surveillance data by North Carolina state and local public health authorities resulted in meaningful public health action, the syndromic surveillance system is oriented towards sensitivity not efficiency. In the future, systems will need to be oriented towards efficiency in order to successfully incorporate new surveillance data into systems.

Other articles discussed:

To view all of the article summaries, please visit the ISDS July 2012 Summaries Wiki.

You may also review the Literature Review archives here.

Written by Tera Reynolds, MPH, ISDS Program Manager.

26 July 2012

JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health Announces Free Online Courses

On July 17th, 2012 the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) announced it will be joining several other universities in offering free online courses through the social entrepreneurship company, Coursera, in an effort to "give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available to only a select few." Johns Hopkins University joins this endeavor with several institutions such as Stanford University; Princeton University; University of Washington; University of California, Berkeley; École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; California Institute of Technology and many others to provide high-quality college-level material that covers topics ranging from the Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, Computer Science, and more.

Beginning in the fall, Johns Hopkins University will initiate its partnership with Coursera by offering eight courses from the Bloomberg School of Public Health. These courses will be taught by JHU professors and cover subjects that include Data Analysis, Principles of Obesity Economics, Vaccine Trails: Methods and Best Practices, Health for All Through Primary Care, and more. The Dean of the Bloomberg School, Michael J. Klag, spoke of this new partnership and stated, "Sharing our knowledge and research with the world is an essential part of our mission of improving health and saving lives."

ISDS applauds the Johns Hopkins University and the Bloomberg School of Public Health along with the other partner universities for embarking on this mission to make information more accessible. ISDS also commends the innovative efforts of Coursera for facilitating knowledge sharing that will help educate and equip students beyond the reach of the conventional classroom.

Follow these links to learn more about the Johns Hopkins announcement and explore what other universities are teaching online at the Coursera website.

25 July 2012

Clarification Addendum to PHIN Messaging Guide Release 1.0

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Public Health Information Network (PHIN) Messaging Guide for Syndromic Surveillance: Emergency Department and Urgent Care Data Release 1.0 (October 2011) is a message implementation guide designed to support state and local public health agencies’ use of Electronic Health Record (EHR) data acquired through the Meaningful Use Programs. This document includes minimum syndromic surveillance data standards (core and optional) that emergency departments and urgent care facilities should send to public health agencies. It provides technical specifications and implementation guidance to support the exchange of the core syndromic surveillance data from healthcare to public health.

A clarification addendum to the PHIN Messaging Guide for Syndromic Surveillance Release 1.0 was published by the CDC yesterday, July 24, 2012. This addendum consolidates the HL7 2.5.1 message information, clarifies existing conformance requirements, and corrects significant errata in order to support the certification of EHR technology for reporting syndromic surveillance data. Download the addendum here (pdf).

For more information regarding syndromic surveillance and Meaningful Use, please click here.

23 July 2012

WHO Releases Interim Epi Surveillance Standards for Flu

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released Interim Global Epidemiological Surveillance Standards for Influenza for review and comment until October 31, 2012. This document contains the WHO interim global standards for influenza surveillance that have been created over the course of the last two years. Various groups have played a role in the development of these standards from around the world, each brining a unique perspective to key surveillance issues. 

A WHO Working Group on Global Influenza Surveillance Standards was assembled, convening experts from all six WHO regions. Additionally, in March of 2011, a Global Consultation on Influenza Surveillance Standards was held in Geneva. This consultation brought together epidemiologists and surveillance officers from 35 countries from all six WHO regions, each of the WHO regional offices, as well as representation from PATH, US CDC, ECDC, and WHO HQ. 

Input from this meeting provided the basis for the initial drafts of the influenza surveillance standards document. The drafts were circulated further through various groups such as the WHO Epidemiological Network, the working group, and other advisors for feedback and comments from February to April of 2012. The feedback received from the current release of the document, the interim standards, will help direct the final version, which will be produced after the comment period that ends on October 31, 2012. 

The WHO now invites you to join this process and submit your own feedback on the interim standards.

View the WHO Interim Global Epidemiological Surveillance Standards for Influenza
Submit feedback

20 July 2012

Are you using R? - A Brief R Software Survey

In an ongoing effort to provide resources and training for the public health surveillance community, ISDS requests feedback on your experience with using R, the open-source programming language and software environment. R is a no-cost and easily downloadable software environment with a relatively short learning curve for those with previous programming experience. R includes a vast library of free program components for various purposes ranging from data management, visualizations, statistical inferences, and more.

Please take a moment to respond to this brief 5-minute survey to help ISDS plan and deliver R trainings of the greatest need and value. 

If you would like to learn more about R and some of the resources that are currently available to R users, visit the ISDS R Resources page

10 July 2012

Public Health Informatics Virtual Event 2012

ISDS encourages its public health practice community to submit abstracts for the Public Health Informatics: Model Best Practices Virtual Meeting that is taking place August 27-28, 2012. This is a unique opportunity to share your work in public health informatics in a virtual setting to wide audience without having to be granted travel approval. Take advantage of this free CDC, NACCHO, and ASTHO sponsored event by submitting an abstract by July 20, 2012 or attending as an audience member. Please find the official invitation below for more details. 

Invitation to Participate in a Virtual Meeting

Public Health Informatics: Model Best Practices

Hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 
Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office, 
Division of Informatics Practice, Policy, and Coordination

Virtual Meeting Date: August 27-28, 2012
Abstract Submission Deadline: July 20, 2012

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) invites you to submit abstracts for the Public Health Informatics: Model Best Practices Virtual Meeting that will be held August 27-28, 2012. 

Abstracts that address the meeting theme, "Best Practices in Public Health Informatics", and that relate to the following tracks are strongly encouraged: 
  • Medicaid Collaborations with Public Health
  • Public Health Initiatives within Beacon Communities
  • Health Information Exchange and Governance
  • Mobile Applications for Public Health
Abstract submissions for the Virtual Meeting is a competitive process that encourages both cross-sector and cross-jurisdictional abstract submissions. Presentations of greatest value will help guide participants towards advancing public health informatics practice and participation- through collaboration, model activities, standards and innovation. 

The Deadline for Abstract Submissions is July 20, 2012. Click here to complete the online Abstract Submission Form. 
  • Applicants will be notified of the status of selection on July 27, 2012.
  • The event is completely virtual; attendees will participate in the sessions from the comfort of their own desks. Therefore, if selected, the presentation must be pre-recorded with video and audio capabilities.
  • Though pre-recorded, the event will feature dynamic, real-time participation from the audience, including live chat during the presentations. Presenters must be online to facilitate Q&A during their scheduled presentation.
This virtual event is free of charge and open to the public health community. 

05 July 2012

Discover IMED 2013 - Vienna, Austria

ISDS would like to share with its surveillance community an exciting opportunity for learning, collaborating, and sharing work for those working in the field of infectious disease.

What: The International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance (IMED) 2013 will convene leading scientists, clinicians and policy makers in Vienna, Austria in February of 2013 to present new knowledge and breakthroughs and discuss how to discover, detect, understand, prevent and respond to outbreaks of emerging pathogens. Organized by the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID), this meeting has become a fixture for those whose work deals with threats from infectious agents.

IMED draws together human and veterinary health specialists and serves as a true One Health forum where those working in diverse specialties and regions can meet, discuss, present and challenge one another with findings and new ideas. Relevant and compelling topics such as social media and data mining, novel laboratory methods, rapid point-of-care diagnostics, public health, risk communication and political and societal responses to outbreaks will all be featured at IMED 2013.

Who: The target audience of IMED 2013 is ProMED-mail subscribers, physicians, veterinarians and other health care workers, public health leaders, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, journalists and other interested persons.

When: February 15 - 18, 2013

Where: Hilton Hotel, Vienna, Austria

Important Date:

  • December 1, 2012 - Abstract Submission Deadline

Learn more: Visit the IMED 2013 website for more information and meeting updates.

03 July 2012

Last Day to Comment: ISDS MU Guidelines

Today, Tuesday July 3rd, is the final day to provide comments on the ISDS Revised Guidelines for Syndromic Surveillance Using Inpatient and Ambulatory Clinical Care EHR Data. This is your last opportunity to provide input that will inform ISDS's Meaningful Use recommendations that will be made to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

View the Revised Guidelines: http://www.syndromic.org/uploads/files/RevisedGuidelinesforSS.pdf
View the Guidelines FAQ: http://www.syndromic.org/uploads/files/GuidelinesFAQ.pdf 

You can also view the presentation below for a summary of the key parts of the Guidelines to help inform your comments. 

Ways to Comment
1. On-line Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ISDSRevisedGuidelines2012
2. Email your comments to Becky Zwickl, MPH, ISDS Public Health Analyst at bzwickl@syndromic.org.