Community of Practice Updates

Karl Soetebier Joins NSSP Team

Karl Soetebier, MAPW NSSP Informatics Coordinator

Karl Soetebier, MAPW
NSSP Informatics Coordinator

We are pleased to announce that Karl Soetebier has joined CDC’s Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance as the National Syndromic Surveillance Program’s (NSSP) Informatics Coordinator. In this new leadership role, Soetebier will oversee crosscutting informatics initiatives and work alongside NSSP Lead Loren Rodgers to coordinate day-to-day operations. Soetebier will apply his technical leadership to making sure the right technology and processes are in place to sustain and enhance the capacity of NSSP to achieve its mission. This work will range from developing technical standards to architectural planning.

Soetebier has more than 20 years’ experience in application development and technical leadership, most recently as director for the Office of Public Health Informatics, Georgia Department of Public Health. While there, he oversaw the introduction of Georgia’s statewide syndromic surveillance program and developed technical solutions and system modules to support surveillance across a broad range of modalities and health conditions. Soetebier has extensive experience promoting interoperability between public health and healthcare, which is a high-ranking CDC priority that should significantly benefit NSSP participants in the years ahead. Soetebier also has in-depth knowledge of data exchange with emergency departments (EDs), commercial and hospital laboratories, health information exchanges, and other data exchange partners.

Please help us welcome Karl Soetebier to NSSP’s leadership team!


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CSTE 2021 Conference Banner

Conference will host live discussions, on-demand sessions, awards, Q&As, workshops, and plenaries. Learn more at CSTE’s website.

CDC Modernization Initiative

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to the Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System. This proposed rule would revise the requirements for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) participating in the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program by requiring four of the measures associated with the Public Health and Clinical Data Exchange Objective: syndromic surveillance reporting, immunization registry reporting, electronic case reporting, and electronic reportable laboratory result reporting. Under this change, an eligible hospital or CAH would receive 10 points for the Public Health and Clinical Data Exchange Objective if they report a ‘‘yes’’ response for each of the aforementioned measures.

  • The rule change will apply to hospitals and CAHs, and will require “active engagement” between the hospitals and a state or local public health agency.
  • There are exclusions available to hospitals if the state or local public health agency does not have the capability to engage in the data exchange measure.
  • The syndromic surveillance requirement will only apply to those hospitals with an emergency department.
  • The Public Health Registry and Clinical Data Registry measures would remain optional.

If enacted, this change would become effective beginning with the electronic health record reporting period in calendar year 2022.

The full version of the proposed rule can be found here. Public comments can be submitted at, and are due by 5:00 PM EDT on June 28, 2021.

2020 Syndromic Surveillance Recordings + Slides Now Available!

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and NSSP are pleased to announce that the session recordings and slides from the 2020 Syndromic Surveillance Symposium are available. The 2020 Syndromic Surveillance Final Event Packet includes an 1) agenda annotated with links to session recordings plus slides and 2) track-specific content annotated with recordings plus slides. In addition to the link above, you can find these resources on the Knowledge Repository’s 2020 Syndromic Surveillance Symposium entry.

Community Highlights

Have you checked out the NSSP CoP website?

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) has a new online home for the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) Community of Practice (CoP)! There, you can find information and resources about the community, ways to get involved, monthly call schedules, and much more. Check out the website and bookmark for future visits.

Participate in Active NSSP CoP Slack Discussions

As a reminder, CSTE supports and moderates the NSSP Community of Practice Slack Workspace, 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 here.

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 form, 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 your idea to, and they can take it from there.
  • Become a Data Quality Subcommittee Co-Chair: The DQ Subcommittee is currently looking for two co-chairs. If you’re interested or want to learn more, please email

To learn more or get involved, please email

NSSP Community of Practice

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The April 2021 NSSP Community of Practice (CoP) trending topic of the month, “What’s New in the ESSENCE?” was hosted by the NSSP CoP Technical Subcommittee. Loren Rodgers (CDC/NSSP) kickstarted the call by describing the NSSP updates of March 18, 2021:

  • AMC data access rules were extended to provide site administrators new functionality around data sharing and improved security. Two types of time restrictions are now available for data access rules: 1) to specify a length of time or date range that a rule is available, and 2) to specify a time frame or range for data that a rule can access.
  • The release fixed a bug and optimized the SQL database to further stabilize data access.
  • Improved “change password” screen prompts will alert AMC users if their new password fails to satisfy password requirements.
  • Several design improvements to enhance usability and performance were introduced to the Data Quality Dashboard.
  • The BioSense Platform User Manual for the Access & Management Center has been revised to include enhancements associated with the latest release. Look for this manual in the Technical Resource Center, Technical Publications and Standards.

Rodgers concluded by informing attendees that a long-term error handling solution is expected to be released mid-July.

Natasha Close (WA) and Caleb Wiedeman (TN), the NSSP CoP Technical Subcommittee co-chairs, gave an overview of the subcommittee and member roles. The Technical Subcommittee serves as a sounding board for new ESSENCE functionality and testing of pilot ideas.

The remainder of the call focused on ESSENCE features and topics. Wayne Loschen (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory) demoed ESSENCE features for new ESSENCE users. Additionally, Loschen and NSSP staff provided an ESSENCE show and tell while also answering ESSENCE questions submitted by NSSP community members.

The NSSP CoP supports the NSSP–ESSENCE User Group. This group alerts members of changes to NSSP–ESSENCE and answers community questions about functions and features specific to NSSP–ESSENCE. This group’s call schedule will be set soon. To receive emails from the NSSP–ESSENCE User Group, please complete this form.

NSSP CoP Core Committee

  • Krystal Collier (AZ)—Core Committee Chair
  • Yushiuan Chen (Tri-County, CO)—Core Committee Deputy Chair
  • Data Quality Subcommittee Co-Chairs: If you’re interested in working with others and co-chairing this subcommittee, we are looking for two co-chairs. 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

  • The April 2021 DQ call focused on ways to make the most of the subcommittee and tailor activities to meet the needs of its members. Attendees discussed the results from a questionnaire shared with the subcommittee before the call. This questionnaire asked members to suggest DQ topics that could guide future calls. If you’re interested in suggesting topics, please complete this questionnaire.
  • The Data Quality subcommittee is seeking two co-chairs. Please email for details.
  • Check out previous call recordings and other resources from the DQ Subcommittee here.

Knowledge Repository (KR) Curation Subcommittee

Syndrome Definition (SD) Subcommittee

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

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

  • During the April 2021 SPHERR call, Ashley Hawes (Austin, TX) presented an initial analysis on winter storm Uri in Austin, Texas. Hawes shared trends on ED visits related to cold-related illness, unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, motor vehicle crashes, dialysis, and homelessness. The remainder of the call focused on the use of ESSENCE for winter storm surveillance.
  • 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