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“That was then, this is now” improving public health syndromic surveillance baselines


Syndromic surveillance systems are used by Public Health England (PHE) to detect changes in health care activity that are indicative of potential threats to public health. By providing early warning and situational awareness, these systems play a key role in supporting infectious disease surveillance programmes, decision making and supporting public health interventions. In order to improve the identification of unusual activity, we created new baselines to model seasonally expected activity in the absence of outbreaks or other incidents. Although historical data could be used to model seasonality, changes due to public health interventions or working practices affected comparability. Specific examples of these changes included a major change in the way telehealth services were provided in England and the rotavirus vaccination programme introduced in July 2013 that changed the seasonality of gastrointestinal consultations. Therefore, we needed to incorporate these temporal changes in our baselines.


To improve the ability of syndromic surveillance systems to detect unusual events.

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