Monitoring and Improving Syndromic Surveillance Data Quality


The public health problem identified by Alabama Department of Public Health Syndromic Surveillance (AlaSyS) was that the data reflected in the user application of ESSENCE (Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics) was underestimating occurrences of syndromic alerts preventing Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) from timely recognition of potential public health threats. Syndromic surveillance (SyS) data in ESSENCE were not reliable for up to a week after the visit date due to slow processing, server downtime, and untimely data submission from the facilities. For AlaSyS, 95 percent of data should be submitted within 24 hours from time of visit, for near real time results. The slow data processing caused latency in the data deeming it less useful for surveillance purposes, consequently the data was not meaningful for daily alerts. For example, if a user ran a report to assess the number of Emergency Department (ED) visits that mentioned heroin in the chief complaint (CC), depending on the status of the data coming from the facility (processing, sending, or offline), the number of visits visible to the user could vary from one to several days. With the opioid epidemic Alabama is currently facing, this delay poses a major public health problem.

Objective: To monitor and improve the data quality captured in syndromic surveillance for Alabama Department of Public Health Syndromic Surveillance (AlaSyS).

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Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
January, 2019

June 18, 2019

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