30 August 2012

Syndromic Surveillance Job Posting - North Carolina DHHS

There is a job opening for a Public Health Epidemiologist in the North Caroline Department of Health and Human Service's Surveillance Unit of the Communicable Disease Branch. 

This position oversees the monitoring of the near real time public health surveillance systems data and continues efforts to improve early event detection public health surveillance systems for the state of North Carolina. The primary purpose of this position is to detect bioterrorism and other events of public health significance by monitoring real-time surveillance systems data. Responsibilities include providing surveillance systems training and technical assistance. This position also serves as a consultant to the epidemiologists in the Communicable Disease Branch, local public health staff, and hospital epidemiologists with early event surveillance. The epidemiologist in this position is also responsible for contracts development and monitoring with the partners recruited to build early event detection systems.

Desired knowledge, skills and ability include working knowledge of epidemiology, in particular in the areas of public health and infectious disease, epidemiological surveillance data collection, and analysis and interpretation methods. In addition, applicants should have working knowledge of information technology systems as they apply to disease surveillance, excellent written and oral communication skills, and the ability to effectively coordinate and supervise activities of contractors. 

If interested, you are encouraged to go to the job posting to learn more about this position and how to submit your application online. You may find the job posting here: http://tinyurl.com/9eef5r5

Contact information for this job posting is below: 

Division of Public
Human Resources Office
Shari Emery
5605 Six Forks Road  
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: 919-707-5450

23 August 2012

ONC and CMS Release EHR Stage 2 Rules

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
News Division                                   
News Release: Thursday, August 23, 2012

HHS announces next steps to promote use of electronic health records and health information exchange

Today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the next steps in the Obama administration’s work to help doctors and hospitals use electronic health records.

“The changes we’re announcing today will lead to more coordination of patient care, reduced medical errors, elimination of duplicate screenings and tests and greater patient engagement in their own care,” Secretary Sebelius said.

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, doctors, health care professionals and hospitals can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments when they adopt and meaningfully use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology.

More than 120,000 eligible health care professionals and more than 3,300 hospitals have qualified to participate in the program and receive an incentive payment since it began in January 2011. That exceeds a 100,000 goal set earlier this year.

That includes more than half of all eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals and 1 out of every 5 eligible health care professionals.  The program is divided into three stages:
  • Stage 1 sets the basic functionalities electronic health records must include such as capturing data electronically and providing patients with electronic copies of health information.
  • Stage 2 (which will begin as early as 2014) increases health information exchange between providers and promotes patient engagement by giving patients secure online access to their health information.
  • Stage 3 will continue to expand meaningful use objectives to improve health care outcomes.
Today, HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released final requirements for stage 2 that hospitals and health care providers must meet in order to qualify for incentives during the second stage of the program, and criteria that electronic health records must meet to achieve certification.

The requirements announced today:
  • Make clear that stage two of the program will begin as early as 2014. No providers will be required to follow the Stage 2 requirements outlined today before 2014.
  • Outline the certification criteria for the certification of EHR technology, so eligible professionals and hospitals may be assured that the systems they use will work, help them meaningfully use health information technology, and qualify for incentive payments.
  • Modify the certification program to cut red tape and make the certification process more efficient.
  • Allow current “2011 Edition Certified EHR Technology” to be used until 2014.

The CMS final rule also provides a flexible reporting period for 2014 to give providers sufficient time to adopt or upgrade to the latest EHR technology certified for 2014.

A fact sheet on CMS’s final rule is available at http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/fact_sheets.asp.

A detailed fact sheet on ONC’s standards and certification criteria final rule is available at http://healthit.hhs.gov/standardsandcertification.

The final rules announced today may be viewed at http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1. More information on the Stage 2 rule can be found at the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website at www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms.

21 August 2012

Highlight ISDS Workshop: Assessment tools to meet the core capacities of the surveillance goal of the 2005 International Health Regulations

Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina
1380 Harbor Island Drive, San Diego, California 92101 

Resolution WHA65.23, developed at the World Health Assembly in May 2012, recognizes the importance of having tools and procedures available for the continuous monitoring of core capacities specified in the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHRs). The resolution urges state parties, “… to take the necessary steps to prepare and carry out appropriate national implementation plans in order to ensure the required strengthening, development and maintenance of the core public health capacities...”


In order to directly address the needs discussed at the World Health Assembly, ISDS, with support from WHO, is developing a one-day, hands-on training designed to help nations meet the core capacities of the surveillance goal of the 2005 IHRs. The training will feature an overview of the IHRs (2005) by Dr. Stella Chungong, lead of the IHR Monitoring Team at the World Health Organization. This overview will be followed by an introduction to concepts and tools to assess current performance and gaps in performance by Dr. Scott McNabb, Public Health Practice, LLC. Participants will also have an opportunity to implement these tools on indicators specific to their country (or on sample indicators).

The final session of the Pre-Conference Workshop is called the ‘Swap Meet’ – an interactive session during which participants may walk around to tables and informally discuss topics and systems with system developers, users, and content experts.

Reserve your space and register now.

Find information on other Pre-Conference Workshop Track options here.

This Pre-Conference Workshop Track is being sponsored in part by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

ISDS's Global Outreach Committee hosted an International Health Regulations Webinar Series featuring both Dr. Chungong and Dr. McNabb. View the recordings here.

17 August 2012

New Post for Comment on BioSense Collaboration Site

ISDS encourages you to provide your input on a new post available on the BioSense Collaboration Site.

The BioSense Redesign team requests your feedback on this most recent post to help the BioSense development team identify fresh and useful content for the BioSense Redesign. Your feedback is valuable to the redesign of the BioSense system and Program.

You may access the questions directly at Feedback Forum Post 15: BioSense Collaboration Website Updates or view the questions on the new Community Forum Post on the BioSense Collaboration Website.

Thank you!

16 August 2012

PHSIPO Draft Strategic Plan Now Available for Review and Comment - Deadline 9/7/12

The Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office (PHSIPO) (proposed) Draft FY13-FY16 Strategic Plan is now available for review and comment. 

The draft plan establishes PHSIPO's vision, identifies key priorities, and defines strategies to advance the science and practice of public health surveillance and informatics. PHSIPO requests your review and recommendations on the draft Strategic Plan and specifically requests your help to:

  • Identify significant gaps
  • Identify areas that are unclear
  • Provide suggests to help PHSIPO realize the outlined goals and implement this plan
Follow the link below to view the draft PHSIPO FY13-FY16 Strategic Plan and the comment form. 

Please review the Strategic Plan by September 7, 2012. Send any feedback using the comment form directly to the PHSIPO mailbox: surveillancepractice@cdc.gov. Please share this with others who may be interested. Questions can be addressed to Julie Zajac at 404-498-0354 or cgv7@cdc.gov

Dr. James Buehler, Director of the Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office, will be speaking about the PHSIPO Strategic Plan on a webinar later today, Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT. Learn more about this event and register to attend here: http://www.syndromic.org/webinar/8-16-12.

15 August 2012

2012 Data Visualization Event at the ISDS Conference

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

*Image developed by MIT's SENSEable City Lab and taken from here.
Do you want to participate in the ISDS Conference? Work with a new and unique dataset? Show off your visualization skills?

Submit a visualization for the 2012 Data Visualization Event!  

Apply your visualization skills to a rich, de-identified set of ambulatory electronic health record (EHR) data from Practice Fusion, a free, web-based EHR vendor. These are not your typical syndromic surveillance data; there are no free text data, the most specific time frame is year, and the most specific geographic location is state. What these data do include, however, are allergies, conditions, diagnoses, immunizations, lab orders and results, medications, patient demographics, smoking status and vital signs. In partnership with Kaggle, Practice Fusion released these 10,000 de-identified, HIPAA-compliant medical records to spur innovation into new uses of clinical data to improve public health and patient care.  

Since this is a unique dataset, and due to the growing importance of chronic disease surveillance, we are challenging participants to use the data to develop visualizations for chronic disease surveillance.

Details can be found here.

Submissions will be presented during the ISDS Conference enabling conference attendees to gain knowledge of visualization tools and techniques.

To sign up, please complete the registration form by September 27, 2012.

*Please note that use of the Practice Fusion dataset for the ISDS Data Visualization Event does not constitute an endorsement by ISDS for any of Practice Fusion's products and/or services.

08 August 2012

2012 London Olympics at the 2012 ISDS Conference

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

Image Source[2]: Flight patterns to London, UK.
Are you obsessed with the 2012 Olympic games in London? Maybe you’ve even called in sick to work in order to watch your favorite events? Well, come December, we will remind you of all the Olympic excitement and you can even bring the Olympics back to work! The 2012 ISDS Scientific Program Committee is developing a panel on Disease Surveillance for Mass Gatherings for this year’s Conference agenda and is pleased to announce that Dr. Brian McCloskey, Health Protection Agency (HPA), will present on this panel.

Dr. McCloskey is the Regional Director for the HPA in London and he has had the lead role in planning for the 2012 London Olympics. He has also worked with the World Health Organization’s Mass Gatherings Advisory Group since 2008, helping develop their guidance and toolkit. Dr. McCloskey was quoted in an article published in the Chicago Tribune, “There’s the potential to increase the importation and spread of disease we don’t normally see in London.” In order to prepare for this potential, Dr. McCloskey and his colleagues significantly increased disease surveillance activities throughout the country.

Dr. McCloskey will bring this wealth of experience to San Diego December 4-5th so that you may bring this knowledge back to your public health agency to help inform preparations for the next mass gathering nearest you.   

  1. Hamzelou J. Crowded places like the Olympics breeding grounds for disease. Chicago Tribune. 25 July 2012. View here.

Additional Articles and Publications:
  1. Heinsbroek E, Said B, Kirkbride H. A new surveillance system for undiagnosed serious infectious illness for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Eurosurveillance. 2012;17(31). Available here.
  2. Cressey D and Callaway E. Science at the Olympics: Team science. Nature. 18 July 2012. View here.
  3. Olympic Games draws in huge crowds… and germs. Metro News. 23 July 2012. View here.

07 August 2012

2012 ISDS Award for Outstanding Research Articles in Biosurveillance

The International Society for Disease Surveillance Research Committee developed the Award for Outstanding Research Articles in Biosurveillance (2012 Award) in order to recognize disease surveillance scientists and professionals for contributions to their fields of research.

The initial 2012 Award candidate pool consisted of articles summarized by members of the ISDS Literature Review Subcommittee between January 2010 and March 2012. A nomination period was open from June 4th through June 25th, during which anyone could nominate one or more of the articles in the initial pool or write-in any relevant article published in 2010 or later. The Award Committee then reviewed all nominated articles and narrowed the list down to 5 finalist articles in each award category, using category-specific criteria. The ISDS membership voted to determine the final award winners. 

At the culmination of this process, the ISDS Research Committee is proud to announce the Awards for Outstanding Research Articles in Biosurveillance:

Impact on Field of Biosurveillance Category 

First Prize: Lucero CA, Oda G, Cox K, Maldonado F, Lombardo J, Wojcik R, Holodniy M. Enhanced health event detection and influenza surveillance using a joint Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense biosurveillance application. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2011;11:56.   

Second Prize: Peter W, Najmi AH, Burkom HS. Reducing false alarms in syndromic surveillance. Statistics in Medicine. 2011. 

Tie for Third Prize:  

Scientific Achievement Category   

First Prize: Gesteland PH, Livnat Y, Galli N, Samore MH, Gundlapalli AV. The EpiCanvas infectious disease weather map: an interactive visual exploration of temporal and spatial correlations. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association: JAMIA. 2012.    

Second Prize: Fine AM, Nizet V, Mandl KD. Improved diagnostic accuracy of group A streptococcal pharyngitis with use of real-time biosurveillance. Ann. Intern. Med. 2011;155(6):345-352. 

Tie for Third Prize:

We congratulate all of the authors of the winning articles for this achievement.

Don’t miss the presentations by Dr. Cynthia Lucero-Obusan, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Dr. Per Hans Gesteland, University of Utah School of Medicine, at the 2012 ISDS Conference!

For more information about the 2012 Award, please visit the Award webpage.

06 August 2012

National Defense Industrial Association's Biosurveillance Conference

Creating a National Biosurveillance Strategy: Addressing the Shortfalls and Filling the Gaps

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is hosting a conference at Washington Court Hotel on Capitol Hill from August 27 - 28th.

With new developments and advancements in biotechnology, the range of biological threats is becoming infinite. Failed attempts to develop an effective national biosurveillance strategy have left the U.S., and its allies, unprepared in a particularly dangerous time. The NDIA Biosurveillance Conference will provide a forum for addressing the many known shortfalls and inadequacies, in the biosurveillance community, preventing us from developing, implementing, and maintaining a national biosurveillance strategy.

Attendees will be provided the opportunity to share ideas and explore the vital next steps to achieve the overall goal of standardizing and integrating the biosurveillance community, thus, helping us prepare for and protect against harmful biological agents in the environment.

In a time where strengthening our defenses in the biological arena is of national priority, it’s more important than ever to bring government, industry, academia, and first responders together, on one stage, in order to “address the shortfalls and fill in the gaps” in our national biosurveillance strategy.

Regular registration ends August 17th. For more information, please visit the NDIA conference website.

03 August 2012

Syndromic Surveillance Reference Implementation Release 3 Now Available

The Community for Population and Public Health Measures (COPHM) is pleased to announce the third release of its Syndromic Surveillance Reference Implementation application. Using the Syndromic Surveillance Reference Implementation will allow organizations to quickly and easily setup a secured Biosurveillance system that utilizes the latest NwHIN specifications. The tool has been designed to enable secure communications between two organizations, or between an organization and the BioSense 2.0 system.

Fully compliant with the latest version of the PHIN Messaging guide for Syndromic Surveillance, the tool is open source and free to download and customize. Release 3.0 adds support for the NwHIN Direct messaging platform to the available transport mechanisms.

Visit the COPHM release page at http://www.cophm.org/content/release-30 for more information.