Analyzing Health Events

Data collected through CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) https://cdc.gov/nssp helps collect and analyze medical data to validate and monitor harmful effects of individuals exposed to diseases and hazardous conditions.  

CDC’s cloud-based BioSense Platform www.cdc.gov/nssp/biosence, provides a secure integrated electronic health information system with standardized analytic tools and processes.

BioSense expands the use of EHRs and gives health departments a common electronic platform for collecting, storing, and sharing data in order to provide data on threats, symptoms, illnesses, and serious injuries

NSSP’s BioSense platform was the first HHS system to move completely to a distributed cloud computing environment. By using common resources found on BioSense, such as networks, servers, software, tools, and free storage, users have found limited need for additional IT support.

The platform offers local and state users free secure data storage space, an easy-to-use display dashboard, and enables state and local health departments and CDC to share health information across city, county, or state jurisdictions.

BioSense 2.0 is the current version of syndromic surveillance software supported by CDC. However, BioSense 2.0 will be discontinued in late 2016 and be replaced with integrated and standardized software tools shared across the platform’s cloud-based computing environment.

On the state level, Texas is proceeding to keep up-to-date and further develop the Texas Syndromic Surveillance (TxS2) system www.dshs.texas.gov/txs2. At the present time, various parts of the state exist without sharing data between various parts of the state.

TxS2 will help data providers by providing additional emergency room tracking and data on infection control procedures, provide warnings on health trends, perform data analysis, track post-surgical infections, and collaborate with public health while protecting data.

TxS2 will be equally beneficial to public health officials by enabling them to query data for symptoms, map clusters, receive news on early events, perform outbreak case investigations, and access the impact of a natural disaster.

A two-tiered governance structure has been established for TxS2. The first tier is the Syndromic Surveillance Governance Council (SSGC) which makes policy recommendations to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) www.dshs.texas.gov regarding the system’s functionality and data use.

The second governance tier will house eight Syndromic Surveillance Regional Advisory Committees to correspond with each Health Services Region to gather input from local health departments and data providers to find out how the system is operating.

As of October 2016, Texas is in the process of setting up the TxS2 infrastructure and should be ready for pilot by January 2017. Integration and migration of data from existing systems as well as establishing new connections for additional data providers, should begin by February 2017.

Within the state, the city of Houston’s Health Department www.houstontx.gov/health is in the process of creating a syndromic surveillance system for data providers in the Texas Department of State Health Services Region 6/5S. Data providers located in HSR 6/5S will connect to the Houston Health Department system and the data will then be sent to TxS2.

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