Meeting Mandatory Infectious Disease Reporting Requirements: The Department of Veterans AffairsÍ Plan

There are currently no federal laws mandating the reporting of infectious diseases to public health authorities. Reporting requirements reside at the state level and such laws do not apply to federal agencies including the VA. Heretofore, VA's reporting of infectious diseases to public health authorities has been strictly voluntary, and has been accomplished via traditional methods (phone, mail, and fax) that are highly prone to human error, create a significant administrative burden, and do not adequately safeguard the privacy of Veterans' data.

April 28, 2019

Does Antimicrobial Prescription Data Improve Influenza Surveillance in VA?

Antimicrobial prescriptions are a new data source available to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) biosurveillance program. Little is known about whether antiviral or antibacterial prescription data correlates with influenza ICD-9-CM coded encounters. We therefore evaluated the utility and timeliness of antiviral and antibacterial utilization for influenza surveillance.

March 02, 2018

Enhanced Influenza Surveillance using Telephone Triage Data in the VA ESSENCE Biosurveillance System

Telephone triage is a relatively new data source available to biosurveillance systems.1-2Because early detection and warning is a high priority, many biosurveillance systems have begun to collect and analyze data from non-traditional sources [absenteeism records, overthe-counter drug sales, electronic laboratory reporting, internet searches (e.g. Google Flu Trends) and TT]. These sources may provide disease activity alerts earlier than conventional sources. Little is known about whether VA telephone program influenza data correlates with established influenza biosurveillance.

March 19, 2018

Inpatient Data: A New Frontier in VA Biosurveillance and Public Health Monitoring from the Electronic Health Record

The Veterans Affairs (VA) ESSENCE obtains electronic health record data from 152 medical centers plus clinics in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the Philippines. ESSENCE analyzes ICD-9 diagnosis codes and demographic data from outpatient and emergency department visits using complex aberrancy-detection algorithms. In 2010, a new instance was stood up (VA Inpatient ESSENCE) which receives weekly feeds of inpatient data from all VA acute care hospitals starting at the beginning of the Fiscal Year (FY10, Oct. 1, 2009).

May 02, 2019

Adapting a syndromic biosurveillance system to monitor veterans’ health impact associated with the gulf coast oil spill

On 20 April 2010, an explosion on an offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico led to a prolonged uncontrolled release of crude oil. Both clean-up workers and coastal residents were potentially at high risk for respiratory and other acute health effects from exposure to crude oil and its derivatives, yet there was no surveillance system available to monitor these health effects.

June 10, 2019

Surveillance for nationally notifiable infectious conditions using ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes in the VA ESSENCE biosurveillance system

The Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE) obtains electronic data from 153 Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers plus outpatient clinics in all 50 states, American Samoa, Guam, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Currently, there is no centralized VA reporting requirement for nationally notifiable infectious conditions detected in VA facilities. Surveillance and reporting of cases to local public health authorities are performed manually by VA Infection Preventionists and other clinicians.

June 20, 2019

Diagnosis Coding Anomalies Resulting in Hemorrhagic Illness Alerts in Veterans Health Administration Outpatient Clinics

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) operates over 880 outpatient clinics across the nation. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics (ESSENCE) utilizes VHA ICD9 coded outpatient visit data for the detection of abnormal patterns of disease occurrence.

March 26, 2019

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