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Syndromic surveillance using minimum transfer of identifiable data: the example of the National Bioterrorism Syndromic Surveillance Demonstration Program

Abstract
Several health plants and other organizations are collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a syndromic surveillance system with national coverage that includes more than 20 million people. A principal design feature of this system is reliance on daily reporting of counts of individuals with syndromes of interest in specified geographic regions rather than reporting of individual encounter-level information. On request from public health agencies, health plans and telephone triage services provide additional information regarding individuals who are part of apparent clusters of illness. This reporting framework has several advantages, including less sharing of protected health information, less risk that confidential information will be distributed inappropriately, the prospect of better public acceptance, greater acceptance by health plans, and less effort and cost for both health plans and public health agencies. If successful, this system will allow any organization with appropriate data to contribute vital information to public health syndromic surveillance systems while preserving individuals’ privacy to the greatest extent possible.
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Date
2003-01-01
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