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Syndromic surveillance is a strategy used by public health for early event detection and monitoring of the health of a community. It uses “pre diagnostic” information, such as chief complaints from people seeking acute care, to identify emerging trends. NJDOH uses syndromic surveillance to monitor the level of influenza-like illness during flu season, illnesses and injuries associated with a bioterrorism event, infectious disease symptoms, and emerging outbreaks and issues of public health concern in the community. Real-time emergency department (ED) data are currently collected at 42 New Jersey acute care hospitals and satellite EDs by Health Monitoring Systems Inc.’s (HMS) EpiCenter system. EpiCenter collects, manages and analyzes the ED data for syndromic surveillance, and provides access to public health and hospital users via a desktop application in a secure browser. It is expected that ALL hospital and satellite EDs will be participating in EpiCenter by the end of 2012.
- What types of syndromic surveillance data do I retrieve, record and submit?
CMS and ONC Final Rules do not elaborate on the type of “syndrome-based public health surveillance information” to be retrieved, modified, recorded or submitted. In New Jersey, the information collected and sent should meet current reporting regulations and standards.
- Where do I submit the syndromic surveillance data?
CMS Final Rules state: “Eligible Professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) should attempt to identify one public health agency with whom to conduct a test of the submission of electronic data.” (75 FR Page 44368). In New Jersey, hospitals and EDs will be sending syndromic surveillance data via the EpiCenter system.
- If our facility is currently sending syndromic data to HMS EpiCenter, does this meet the meaningful use criteria?
If the transmission established with HMS uses an ONC-certified EHR system and the method of transmission uses HL7 2.3.1 or HL7 2.5.1 message format, then your agency meets the stage 1 meaningful use criteria for syndromic surveillance, as defined by ONC and CMS. However, if your EHR system is not ONC-certified and you are not sending HL7 2.3.1 or HL7 2.5.1 formatted messages, you are NOT meeting CMS Meaningful Use.
- Are all health care providers and hospitals asked to submit Syndromic surveillance data?
No. In New Jersey, syndromic surveillance data are being accepted from hospitals for emergency room visits only.
- What are the current standards and guidelines for submissions of syndromic surveillance data?
The International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS), in close collaboration with the CDC, developed syndromic surveillance standards and guidelines that will be used by the ONC to clarify the public health surveillance requirements of the CMS Meaningful Use Programs.
The recommended standards and requirements are defined in the “Final Recommendation: Core Processes and EHR Requirements for Public Health Syndromic Surveillance” which is available at International Society for Disease Surveillance Website.