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

19 October 2012

ISDS is Now a Provider of CPHCE Credits

ISDS has recently been approved as a provider of Certified Public Health Continuing Education (CPHCE) credits.The CPH credential was established by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) in an effort to give recognition to public health practitioners who have mastered core competencies of public health and who continue their education to remain at the forefront of public health practice. To become CPH certified, a graduate from a CEPH-accredited school or program of public health must pass the entry CPH Exam then complete a bi-annual recertification process to maintain the credential. Every two years, CPH professionals must earn 50 CPH credits to be re-certified. These credits may be earned through a variety of activities such as attending public health professional events, taking college or university courses, reading peer-reviewed literature, attending online webinars, and more.

As an ISDS member benefit, ISDS will be providing CPH CE credits to ISDS members free of charge for various activities such as on-line webinars and in-person meetings. Non-members will be asked to pay a small fee based on the activity and number of credits earned. 

The first ISDS event that will offer CPH CE credit will be the November 8th webinar entitle "Public Health Quality Measures in the Surveillance Context." 

Here are some quick facts about CPH certification:
  • Current number of CPH: 2,500
  • Estimated number of CPH renewal applications in 2012: 1,000
  • Minimum number of CE recertification credits required for 2012 renewal deadlines: 50,000
ISDS hopes to help provide some of these needed credits and provide opportunities for continuing education in the field of disease surveillance.

Learn more about becoming CPH certified here: http://www.nbphe.org/

16 October 2012

Highlight 2012 Pre-Conference Workshop: Swap Meet

The Swap Meet is an annual Pre-Conference Workshop session that is extremely popular among Pre-Conference Workshop participants. It is an exciting opportunity for attendees to walk around to tables and informally discuss topics and systems with system developers, system users, and experts. One 2011 participant stated that "meeting with the experts during the Swap Meet," was the most valuable part of the Pre-Conference Workshops. 

This year's Swap Meet is shaping up to be another energizing session with presentations on topics including (in no particular order):
  • Suite for Automated Global Electronic Biosurveillance (also known as open-ESSENCE)
  • Assessment tools to meet the core capacities of the surveillance goal of the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHRs)
  • BioSense 2.0 Governance
  • Community of Innovators in Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics (coi-EPHI)
  • National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) ePublic Health/Informatics
  • New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Syndromic Surveillance
  • EpiCanvas Infectious Disease Weather Map
  • FirstWatch
  • Gossamerhealth.org: Open-source collection and organization of surveillance data
  • HealthMap
  • ISDS Committees – Education and Training, Global Outreach Committee, Public Health Practice, and Research  

The 2012 Swap Meet is taking place at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, San Diego, CA, USA and is currently scheduled for Monday, December 3rd from 3:00 to 5:00pm US PST. Register for any Pre-Conference Workshop track to gain access to the Swap Meet. Find information on track options here.

04 October 2012

IMED 2013 Conference - Abstract Deadline

As a co-sponsor of the International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance (IMED) 2013, ISDS would like to share with the surveillance community an important notice from the IMED team about their upcoming abstract submission deadline. ISDS encourages you to learn more about the 2013 meeting that will take place in Vienna, Austria by following the link in the message below and consider submitting an abstract for this incredible international meeting of the minds. Read on to learn more about this opportunity. 


Dear Colleague,

I hope that you plan to attend the 4th International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance this coming February 15-18 in Vienna, Austria http://imed.isid.org/. Since its inception, IMED has been a summit that unifies our approach to pathogens in the broadest ecological context.  Drawing together human and veterinary health specialists, IMED serves as a true One Health forum where those working in diverse specialties and diverse regions can meet, discuss, present and challenge one another with findings and new ideas.

We want to remind you that the IMED 2013 ABSTRACT DEADLINE is on DECEMBER 1, 2012.  That is only 2 months away!  Please consider submitting an abstract describing your investigations related to emerging diseases and surveillance so that you have an opportunity to present your work: https://esociety.netkey.at/isid/imed/abstractsubmission/

ProMED and the International Society for Infectious Diseases, along with all of our co-sponsors and participating organizations, look forward to welcoming you to Vienna.

Best wishes,

Larry Madoff
ProMED Editor