ESSENCE Data Quality Filter

ESSENCE includes a Data Quality Filter that can help you track and enhance data quality for Chief Complaint and Discharge Diagnosis. Given the importance of these elements to syndromic surveillance, this feature should prove useful during internal data quality checks and associated analyses. The Data Quality Filters are listed below:

  • Chief Complaint Available
  • Chief Complaint Informative
  • Discharge Diagnosis Available
  • Discharge Diagnosis Informative

To access the Data Quality Filter tab in ESSENCE, go to the Query Portal and scroll down within the Available Query Fields as shown:

Query Portal screenshot


There are two indicators to understand:

  • Chief Complaint Available: This indicator measures completeness of the chiefcomplaintparsed (the CC of the CCDD) element at the visit level. Visits with a complete chief complaint are set to 1 (Yes) and counted as “available” within the ESSENCE “Chief Complaint Available” field. (Note. This metric simply measures the presence of a value in this segment, nothing further.)
  • Chief Complaint Informative: Through collective input from the community working with the NSSP team, a systematic list of uninformative/not useful chief complaint terms was created. The acronym coined to describe terms with no relevance to syndromic surveillance is “NICC,” which stands for non-informative chief complaint (see the June issue for details). When any NICC occurs in chiefcomplaintparsed (the CC of the CCDD), the Chief Complaint Available will be marked as complete. But keep in mind, NICCs are not meaningful for the purposes of syndromic surveillance.
NICC* Terminology
NICC* Terminology
1 “” 12 other 23 Ambulance 34 Sick
2 null 13 xxx 24 EMS/Arrive by 35 Evaluation
3 unknown 14 Evaluation 25 EMS/Ambulance 36 Injury
4 unknown 15 Follow up 26 ; 37 ill
5 n/a 16 medical 27 ;; 38 Eval
6 na 17 illness 28 Triage 39 squad
7 Chief complaint not present 18 General 29 Triage peds 40 referral
8 ed visit 19 General Symptom 30 Triage- 41 Code 1
9 ed visit 20 EMS 31 Triage peds- 42 Code 3
10 er 21 AMR 32 See chief complaint quote
11 Advice only 22 medical 33 See CC quote

*Non-informative Chief Complaint (NICC)

When the Chief Complaint is solely populated with any of these terms (NICCs), ESSENCE processing will flag that Chief Complaint as uninformative and set it to 0 (No) in the ESSENCE “Chief Complaint Informative” field going forward. This allows you to perform selective analysis on visits with informative/meaningful chief complaint.

  • Discharge Diagnosis Available: This indicator measures completeness of the discharge_diagnosis (the DD of the CCDD) at an ESSENCE visit level. Visits with a DD code (valid or otherwise) are set to 1 (Yes) within ESSENCE “Discharge Diagnosis Available” field going forward. (Note. This variable also measures the presence of a value in the segment, nothing more.)
  • Discharge Diagnosis Informative: This indicator was created to distinguish ESSENCE visits containing usable and meaningful dischargediagnosis (the DD of the CCDD) from those that have NO syndromic value. Currently, ESSENCE uses the same list of terms to scan for Discharge Diagnosis as it does to scan for non-informative Chief Complaint. To date, the terms that have been found include the word “null” and a blank space. Although these words in the discharge_diagnosis will mark the data element as complete, they are not meaningful for the purposes of syndromic surveillance.

These features will be useful for daily monitoring of site- and facility-level changes in percentages of CC and DD that are informative or available so that you can take action as needed. For example, you might want to create a dashboard and personalize it with your list of facilities so that monitoring trend lines for dips and spikes can be done at a glance. Put another way, use this filter to track data quality over time and to hone in on data for analysis and visualization.