Technical Assistance

The State Implementation and Technical Assistance Team provides technical assistance (TA) to public health agencies (PHAs), both individually and in groups (or cohorts), to help them build and implement NNDSS HL7 case notification messages. Subject matter experts guide participants through planning, gap analysis, data extraction, HL7 message creation, and validation. At completion, PHAs will be ready to begin onboarding.

How to Request TA
  1. Address your email to the CDC Electronic Data Exchange inbox at edx@cdc.gov.
  2. Use “NNDSS Technical Assistance Request” as the subject line.
  3. Include a brief description of the assistance needed.

An NNDSS team member will contact you as soon as possible to begin a readiness assessment. The assessment will help to determine the following information:

  • type(s) of assistance needed,
  • identification of the guide(s) to be implemented, and
  • primary point of contact and contact information.

Models of TA

NNDSS provides TA as four different models:

  • Cohort: Collaborate with your fellow jurisdictions to move through MMG development with TA and CDC support in a timely manner.
    • The NNDSS Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) TA team provides TA to help groups, or cohorts, of PHA build and implement NNDSS HL7 case notification messages.
    • Cohorts of 4–6 PHA focusing on the MMGs the jurisdictions are ready to implement.
    • APHL and NEDSS Base System (NBS) subject matter experts guide participants through planning, gap analysis, data extraction, HL7 message creation, and validation. At completion, PHA will be ready to begin onboarding.
  • Virtual: The team provides support via web conferencing and teleconferences for PHAs that have all the necessary resources to complete the project with minimal assistance.
  • Hybrid: A combination of onsite and virtual TA, the hybrid model has a specific team member assigned to the PHA to help fill knowledge or resource gaps while the PHA participates in web conferencing and teleconference trainings.
  • Onsite: The TA team travels to the PHA to provide hands-on support and consulting for several days.

Areas of TA Available

TA is available for the following three areas:

Project Management and Business Analysis

  • Help understand the short- and long-term goals, benefits, and challenges of HL7 case notification messaging.
  • Help determine your path to completing this project, identify potential risk and needed resources, and develop a custom project plan.
  • Transfer knowledge to enhance in-house capability on the use of integration engines and infrastructure management for case notifications to CDC based on message mapping guides (MMGs).
  • Provide hands-on assistance and training to build capacity to implement case notification messages and achieve production status.

Terminology Expertise, Data Standards Expertise, and Workflow Analysis

  • Harmonize surveillance system terminology and incorporate nationally recognized electronic data standards into your workflow.
  • Help map local vocabulary and disease surveillance system (DSS) data elements to data elements within the MMG and to PHIN Vocabulary Access and Distribution System value sets.
  • Identify and explore solutions to gaps between available DSS data elements and MMG data elements.
  • Help understand how, when, and why to use standard codes (e.g., LOINC, SNOMED, PHIN value sets).

Technical Architecture and System Integration Expertise

  • Extract data from surveillance information systems.
  • Map codes in the data extract to vocabulary specified in the MMGs.
  • Create HL7 messages based on the MMGs by using an integration engine (e.g., Rhapsody) or other tools.
  • Facilitate secure transport of HL7 messages.
  • Address security concerns.
  • Provide detailed analysis of proposed solution(s).
  • Use previous experience and reusable components from successful solutions in other organizations so that every implementation does not reinvent the wheel.
  • Provide hands-on assistance with data exchange mechanisms and other technical architecture options.

What to Expect During a TA Call

Initial Call

  • STEP 1: The TA team schedules the initial call with the PHA.
  • STEP 2: During the call, baseline information about the PHA’s systems and current case notification processes is collected and shared.
  • STEP 3: The TA team will discuss the PHA’s responses to the Infrastructure Questions to determine the resources and level of effort required for the implementation.
  • STEP 4: The PHA answers questions related to its technical architecture, security setup, disease surveillance system, and vocabulary (i.e., standard coding).
  • STEP 5: Using the information collected, the TA team drafts a plan for the PHA, including a proposed timeline, a preliminary gap analysis, and a technical solution.

Kickoff Call

  • STEP 1: When both the technical assistance team and PHA are ready to begin work, the TA team schedules the kickoff call with the PHA. This call officially begins the implementation work and finalizes the project plan.
  • STEP 2: During the call, the TA team and PHA identify any remaining preparation to be done.
  • STEP 3: The PHA and TA team develop a target implementation timeline.
  • STEP 4: The PHA and TA team establish weekly checkpoints.
  • STEP 5: After the kickoff call, the TA team will work with the PHA through all of the implementation steps and provide support to meet specific needs.

Q&A for TA

Q: Who provides the TA?
A: The State Implementation and TA team includes MMG and NBS subject matter experts from CDC, the APHL, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE). Technical assistance is provided through the facilitation of cohorts to guide jurisdictions through implementation of an MMG; hands-on assistance with challenging tasks; and training in the form of webinars, job aids, online technical guides, and other materials to support implementation.

Q: Can all jurisdictions use MMG implementation TA ?
A: Yes, all jurisdictions have the opportunity to participate. The requirement to implement HL7 case notification messages and the ability to request TA are both in the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Cooperative Agreement (CoAg). Jurisdictions may choose to implement available HL7 case notification messages on their own as well. Either way, CDC will work with jurisdictions to monitor progress through the quarterly ELC Health Information Systems calls.

Q: Is TA system dependent?
A: No. All jurisdictions can receive TA for HL7 case notification message implementation. Jurisdictions using NBS will receive most of their technical assistance from the NBS team. Jurisdictions that do not use NBS will receive technical assistance from APHL.

Q: Is there a cost to the jurisdictions associated with TA ?
A: No, there is no cost to the jurisdictions for TA. When technical assistance is requested, jurisdictions will be prioritized based on their readiness and ability to conduct HL7 case notification message implementation activities.

Q:  Is funding available to help jurisdictions implement the HL7 case notifications?
A:  Funding provided in the Health Information Systems component of the ELC Cooperative Agreement is intended to help jurisdictions implement the messages.

Q: Can all jurisdictions adopt the new MMGs?
A: All jurisdictions are strongly encouraged to implement the finalized MMGs within 12–18 months after the final MMG is published, go through onboarding, and begin sending case notification messages to CDC.

Q: Are NNDSS and the ELC Cooperative Agreement activities two separate projects?
A: They are separate but complementary efforts. Implementing case notifications based upon the HL7 MMGs is a required activity in the Health Information Systems section of the ELC Cooperative Agreement, and states are encouraged to used funds from the ELC CoAg to support this activity.

Q: How will ELC recipients report on these activities?
A: The quarterly ELC Health Information Systems Implementation Support and Monitoring calls between jurisdictions and CDC include updates on HL7 case notification message implementation.

Q: How will ELC recipient success in MMG implementation be measured?
A: In their work plans for each funding period, ELC HIS recipients provide a realistic plan for implementation, onboarding, and initiating transmission for additional HL7 case notification messages. Progress is monitored on quarterly calls.

Q: What happens if jurisdictions do not implement additional HL7 case notifications?
A: Implementation of available HL7 case notification messages is a requirement for jurisdictions receiving Health Information Systems funding through the ELC Cooperative Agreement.

Page last reviewed: April 16, 2021