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Precision public health through clinic-based syndromic surveillance in communities


In December 2009, Taiwan’s CDC stopped its sentinel physician surveillance system. Currently, infectious disease surveillance systems in Taiwan rely on not only the national notifiable disease surveillance system but also real-time outbreak and disease surveillance (RODS) from emergency rooms, and the outpatient and hospitalization surveillance system from National Health Insurance data. However, the timeliness of data exchange and the number of monitored syndromic groups are limited. The spatial resolution of monitoring units is also too coarse, at the city level. Those systems can capture the epidemic situation at the nationwide level, but have difficulty reflecting the real epidemic situation in communities in a timely manner. Based on past epidemic experience, daily and small area surveillance can detect early aberrations. In addition, emerging infectious diseases do not have typical symptoms at the early stage of an epidemic. Traditional disease-based reporting systems cannot capture this kind of signal. Therefore, we have set up a clinic-based surveillance system to monitor 23 kinds of syndromic groups. Through longitudinal surveillance and sensitive statistical models, the system can automatically remind medical practitioners of the epidemic situation of different syndromic groups, and will help them remain vigilant to susceptible patients. Local health departments can take action based on aberrations to prevent an epidemic from getting worse and to reduce the severity of the infected cases.

Objective: Sentinel physician surveillance in the communities has played an important role in detecting early aberrations in epidemics. The traditional approach is to ask primary care physicians to actively report some diseases such as influenza-like illness (ILI), and hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) to health authorities on a weekly basis. However, this is labor-intensive and time-consuming work. In this study, we try to set up an automatic sentinel surveillance system to detect 23 syndromic groups in the communites.

Submitted by elamb on