Syndromic Surveillance – Finding the H1N1 Hotspots
Posted Nov 03 2009 10:01pm
In this heady post 9/11 world many have become all too familiar with the term “Syndromic Surveillance” which involves collecting and analyzing statistical data on health trends such as symptoms reported by people seeking care in emergency rooms or other health care settings or even sales of flu medicines. Because bioterrorist agents such as anthrax, plague, and smallpox initially present “flu-like” symptoms, a sudden increase of individuals with fever, headache, or muscle pain could be evidence of a bioterrorist attack.
These days we are actually using the practices and methods for something else, actually finding the flu and in particular H1N1 flu hotspots. This has become a challenge as the very systems we put into detect a spike in “flu-like” symptoms as doing exactly what they are supposed to do however they are having real problems discerning between the regular flu, H1N1 and other maladies masquerading as “flu-like” because much of the valuable data is sitting in fixed based files like excel and word as well as paper and paper scanned records.
While today best Syndromic Surveillance systems are based on structured data input advancements are being made however barriers still exist. Check out what the CDC is doing as well as Gartner’s Wes Rishel on why taking this to the next level may not be that easy.