Syndromic surveillance is one of the meaningful use public health menu set objectives for eligible professionals. The value of this data for syndromic surveillance as an adjunct to the more widely adopted emergency department registrations has not been studied extensively. It may be that it would improve the sensitivity or timeliness of detecting certain communicable disease events, or it may just contain signals comparable to what is available via other syndromic surveillance data streams. The value of making the effort to collect this data is considered contingent on the answer to that question.
Public health is concerned with more than just communicable diseases, however. Chronic diseases and their underlying causes are also a significant public health concern. Obesity alone is estimated to be responsible for 2.5% of the global disease burden, and represents a higher fraction in many developed nations. Since chronic diseases are not associated with singular events of brief duration, they are difficult to track with traditional surveillance methods. They are also not typically managed via emergency departments, so syndromic surveillance does not capture them well either.
Chronic diseases are often treated by physicians at ambulatory practices. Thus data from eligible professionals may provide a means for monitoring chronic diseases, or metrics associated with chronic diseases, that would not otherwise be as feasible. As a proof of concept, this study seeks to determine if body mass index (BMI), the standard measure of obesity, can be obtained from ambulatory syndromic surveillance messages.
To demonstrate the utility of ambulatory syndromic surveillance data to public health domains beyond communicable diseases