Data Quality Improvements in National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) Data


The National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) is a community focused collaboration among federal, state, and local public health agencies and partners for timely exchange of syndromic data. These data, captured in nearly real time, are intended to improve the nation's situational awareness and responsiveness to hazardous events and disease outbreaks. During CDC’s previous implementation of a syndromic surveillance system (BioSense 2), there was a reported lack of transparency and sharing of information on the data processing applied to data feeds, encumbering the identification and resolution of data quality issues. The BioSense Governance Group Data Quality Workgroup paved the way to rethink surveillance data flow and quality. Their work and collaboration with state and local partners led to NSSP redesigning the program’s data flow. The new data flow provided a ripe opportunity for NSSP analysts to study the data landscape (e.g., capturing of HL7 messages and core data elements), assess end-to-end data flow, and make adjustments to ensure all data being reported were processed, stored, and made accessible to the user community. In addition, NSSP extensively documented the new data flow, providing the transparency the community needed to better understand the disposition of facility data. Even with a new and improved data flow, data quality issues that were issues in the past, but went unreported, remained issues in the new data. However, these issues were now identified. The newly designed data flow provided opportunities to report and act on issues found in the data unlike previous versions. Therefore, an important component of the NSSP data flow was the implementation of regularly scheduled standard data quality checks, and release of standard data quality reports summarizing data quality findings.


Review the impact of applying regular data quality checks to assess completeness of core data elements that support syndromic surveillance.

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Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
January, 2018

January 21, 2018

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