Community of Practice Updates

CDC Modernization Initiative

“Modernization” of our public health data and surveillance systems is one way in which CDC invests in the future of public health.

The CDC Public Health Data Modernization Initiative lays out a path to move us toward integrated systems that provide data more efficiently for public health action. This framework guides decisions for allocating resources to create interoperable systems (federal, state, local, and healthcare), coordinate investments across CDC (and with partners), develop next-generation tools (e.g., modeling, visualization, machine learning), and strengthen predictive analytics and forecasting. One objective of DMI is for syndromic surveillance to give a faster understanding of emerging health threats through electronic reporting of emergency department visits.

“This is a moment in time when our national leaders will seek to identify or build platforms to detect and monitor future health threats,” NSSP Lead Loren Rodgers said during the February NSSP Community of Practice callexternal icon. “I’d like to challenge the NSSP community to consider our place in a new public health infrastructure. I don’t know of another program that is so purpose-built for this task with the ability to scale to include new data sources and analytics and to share these data with allied [public health] jurisdictions and trusted partners. Our syndromic community exemplifies innovative approaches that other surveillance systems aim to implement.”

CDC’s earlier modernization efforts laid the groundwork that supports NSSP’s current approach to surveillance and—bolstered by CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative—positions the program to better protect our country from all types of public health threats.

Register for the CSTE 2021 Annual Conference


The CSTE 2021 Annual Conference is going virtual!
Learn more at www.csteconference.orgexternal icon.

CSTE Virtual Conferenceexternal icon

Over 700 abstracts submitted! Conference will host live discussions, on-demand sessions, awards, Q&As, workshops, plenaries, and networking opportunities.

Register hereexternal icon. Early bird discount for registrations completed by 11:59 PM EDT Friday, April 30, 2021. Registration closes at 11:59 PM EDT Monday, May 24, 2021.

Community Highlights

CoP Community Highlights

New NSSP CoP Website Live!

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) team is excited to announce that the new online home for the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) Community of Practice (CoP) is now live! There, you can find information and resources about the community, ways to get involved, monthly call schedules, and much more. Check it out here, and bookmark nsspcommunityofpractice.orgexternal icon for future visits.

Participate in Active NSSP CoP Slack Discussions

As a reminder, CSTE supports and moderates the NSSP Community of Practice Slack Workspaceexternal icon, which acts as a communication and collaboration platform for advancing syndromic surveillance practice. Users can easily share information with peers, plan projects, and accelerate data analyses. Reap the benefits of collectively working with other NSSP BioSense Platform users at CDC; other federal agencies; and state, territorial, local, and tribal (STLT) public health departments through engagements facilitated by the channel.

If you want to speak with other syndromic surveillance experts across the country and are affiliated with a federal agency (as an employee or contractor) or STLT health department, this space is designed for YOU! Submit your request to join hereexternal icon.

Note: The NSSP Community of Practice Slack Workspace will not be used to communicate to or with members of the public. As a public federal record, content on the channel is subject to disclosure under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.

Encourage Others to Join!

We encourage members to share the opportunity to join the NSSP CoP with other syndromic surveillance practitioners. By completing this formexternal icon, any individual or organization interested in advancing syndromic surveillance can become a member. As a reminder, membership is voluntary, free of charge, and independent of CSTE membership.

Ways to Engage!

Are you looking for ways to participate and engage in NSSP CoP or related syndromic surveillance (SyS) activities? If so, check out these opportunities to participate:

  • Submit a SyS Success Story: We want to hear from you! Do you have a story to share with the Community but don’t have the time to write? CSTE can help! Just email with a blurb, and they can take it from there.
  • Become a Data Quality Subcommittee Co-Chair: The DQ Subcommittee is currently looking for a co-chair. If you’re interested in this position or want to learn more, please email
  • Participate in a CSTE SyS Collaboration Project:
    • Injury SyS Workgroup: This workgroup is collaborating with CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to finalize a SyS guidance document targeted for March 2021.
    • Wildfire SyS Project: This workgroup has begun validating two wildfire-related health outcome syndrome definitions.
    • CSTE Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose Position Statement Implementation Guide workgroup: This workgroup is drafting guidance for a position statement that will describe how to use (and combine) data from poison control, emergency departments, hospital discharge diagnosis records, syndromic surveillance, and laboratories.

To learn more or get involved, please email

NSSP Community of Practice

During the February 2021 NSSP CoP callexternal icon, Loren Rodgers (NSSP Lead) reflected on lessons learned from the COVID-19 response and set expectations for the future of syndromic surveillance. Rodgers recounted that in 2020, CDC demonstrated its dedication to data modernization and support for creating faster, more reliable data systems that can shed light on “invisible” health threats. Recent executive orders and directives indicate that modern surveillance methods will be critical for moving forward.

Decision-makers need fast, actionable data to improve their understanding of mortality, disparities, and health equity in communities. Syndromic surveillance has demonstrated its success in providing timely information; still, we need to expand its utility further. Rodgers highlighted three areas in which syndromic surveillance can be improved to further contribute to the ongoing COVID-19 response:

  1. Fill gaps in coverage,
  2. Resolve uncertainty about data quality and comparability across public health jurisdictions, and
  3. Alleviate data use restrictions that have led stakeholders to rely on other systems.

Rodgers concluded by stating that syndromic surveillance positions the NSSP CoP to move the country forward in surveilling outbreaks and sustained events.

NSSP CoP Core Committee

  • Krystal Collier (AZ)—Core Committee Chair
  • Yushiuan Chen (Tri-County, CO)—Core Committee Deputy Chair
  • MisChele Vickers (AL)—Data Quality Subcommittee Co-Chair; MisChele will be vacating this position soon. We thank MisChele for her many contributions!  If you’re interested in working with others and co-chairing this subcommittee, please email
  • Diksha Ramnani (WI)—Data Quality Subcommittee Co-Chair
  • Teresa Hamby (NJ)—Knowledge Repository Curation Subcommittee Chair
  • Bill Smith (Maricopa Co., AZ)—Syndromic Surveillance and Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Co-Chair
  • Fatema Mamou (MI)—Syndromic Surveillance and Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Co-Chair
  • Rasneet Kumar (Tarrant Co., TX)—Syndrome Definition Subcommittee Co-Chair
  • Rosa Ergas (MA)— Syndrome Definition Subcommittee Co-Chair
  • Natasha Close (WA)—Technical Subcommittee Co-Chair
  • Caleb Wiedeman (TN)—Technical Subcommittee Co-Chair

Data Quality (DQ) Subcommittee

  • Alex Hanson (Epic) joined the February 2021 DQ call to answer questions about new data fields made available in the August 2020 Release: the Diagnosis Coding Method, the Procedure Coding Method, Patient Type, and Diagnosis Priority. Next, Genny Luenseman and Barbara Wallace (NIOSH) gave an overview on Occupational Data for Health.
  • Check out previous call recordings and other resources from the DQ Subcommittee here.external icon

Knowledge Repository (KR) Curation Subcommittee

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Syndrome Definition (SD) Subcommittee

  • During the February 2021 SD call, May Chen and Ashley D’Inverno (Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control [NCIPC]) presented on CDC’s Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Syndrome Definition V2. CDC scientists previously developed a syndrome in 2018 that captured chief complaints and discharge diagnosis (CCDD) codes suggestive of IPV; over time, however, they noticed that performance varied across public health jurisdictions, thus the need to update the definition. The presenters described how they refined the syndrome definition and shared national trend data. Kayla Anderson (CDC/NCIPC) and Lakshmi Radhakrishnan (CDC/Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services) shared newly developed mental health syndromes. Zach Stein (ICF) shared CCDD category updates for the following:
    • CDC Intimate Partner Violence v2
    • CDC Vaccine-Associated Adverse Events v1
    • CDC COVID-Specific DD v1
    • CDC Coronavirus-DD1 UPDATE
      (Note: This update is reflected in the logic for Coronavirus-like Illness [CLI] CC with CLI DD and Coronavirus DD v1, CLI CC with CLI DD and Coronavirus DD v2, ILI CCDD Neg Coronavirus DD v1, and ILI Syndrome Neg Coronavirus DD v1.)
  • Check out previous call recordings and other resources from the SD Subcommittee here.external icon

Syndromic Surveillance and Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery (SPHERR) Subcommittee

  • Check out previous call recordings and other resources from the SPHERR Subcommittee here.

Technical Subcommittee

  • Check out previous call recordings and other resources from the Technical Subcommittee here.

If you have questions about the NSSP CoP, its highly collaborative user groups, the NSSP CoP Slack Workspace (a collaboration platform), or syndromic surveillance, please email

Page last reviewed: December 2, 2021