Maryland ESSENCE expansion to incorporate prescription medication data


Maryland has a powerful syndromic surveillance system, ESSENCE, which is used for the early detection of disease outbreaks, suspicious patterns of illness, and public health emergencies. ESSENCE incorporates traditional and nontraditional health indicators from multiple data sources (emergency department chief complaints, over-the-counter (OTC) medication sales, and poison control center data).

Initially, 15 (30%) acute care hospitals in the National Capital Region and Baltimore Metro Region of the state were sending emergency department (ED) data to ESSENCE. DHMH began planning several years ago to increase the number of hospitals reporting to ESSENCE.

In 2007, Maryland’s Governor introduced a homeland security initiative that outlined 12 Core Goals for A Prepared Maryland. One of core goals was to improve biosurveillance and in 2009, Maryland successfully incorporated 100% (45) acute-care hospitals into ESSENCE. Maryland continues to enhance and improve ESSENCE by incorporating additional data sources such as prescription medication data.


The purpose of this paper is to describe Maryland’s process of enhancing its Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE) by incorporating additional data sources such as prescription medication data.

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Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
December, 2010

June 18, 2019

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