Researchers sought to understand the characteristics, scope and geographic dispersion of syndromic surveillance systems.
Researchers identified the following key elements which make biosurveillance useful and acceptable to users: 1) automation (does not rely on someone to report the information); 2) flexibility (can create filters and queries to integrate new information), 3) easy to use (easily integrated into day to day monitoring activities and takes only a few minutes to check).
There is wide variation in syndromic surveillance systems in terms of sources of data, the syndromes tracked, and the completeness of syndromic surveillance coverage. Of the 40 systems identified, emergency department (ED) records were collected by 65% of states, followed by hospital admissions records (43% of states). Systems that used ED records covered an average of 47% of all ED visits in the state, and several states have estimated ED coverage rates above 75%. Respiratory (57%) and gastrointestinal (53%) syndromes were most commonly tracked syndromes. In terms of the cost-benefit of syndromic surveillance, researchers indicated that benefits of early event detection (e.g., anthrax attack) alone are unlikely to outweigh the costs. However, when the benefits of situational awareness are included, the cost-benefit conclusions may change and ultimately depend on the systems potential to avoid premature deaths.
Report Title: BioSense Evaluation: Cross-Case Study
Agency Sponsor: CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Federal Contact: Taha Kass-Hout, 404-498-2014
Performer: Research Triangle Institute
Record ID: 9411 (Report issued January 1, 2010)