Community of Practice Updates

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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

Community Highlights

Kathleen Hartnett Honored with HHS Distinguished Service Award

Kathleen Hartnett LCDR

Kathleen P. Hartnett, PhD
(LCDR, Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service)

As announced on the July National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) Community of Practice (CoP) call, Kathleen Hartnett was honored with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service as part of the HHS 2021 recognitions. She received the award for her work on laboratory data during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response and the 2019 outbreak of lung injuries associated with e-cigarettes, or vaping.

Hartnett joined CDC NSSP in 2019 as work lead for laboratory data and now serves as lead for CDC’s Syndromic Surveillance Operations Team. The team provides data quality and analytic support across NSSP data sources.

Kathleen has a PhD and MPH in epidemiology from Emory University, where she worked in environmental and maternal and child health. She started her CDC career in 2017 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the outbreak and response team in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

2021 Syndromic Surveillance Symposium

To support the growing community of epidemiologists and public health professionals practicing syndromic surveillance, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), in collaboration with the CDC NSSP, will support the 2nd Annual Syndromic Surveillance Symposium the week of November 15, 2021.

The symposium will provide a forum for the syndromic surveillance community to exchange experiences, best practices, and ideas in a broad range of areas (e.g., data sharing, syndrome development, data quality, and analytic methods). Attendees will learn the latest methods and topics related to syndromic surveillance practice; discuss ideas for building syndromic surveillance capacity at state, territorial, local, tribal, and national levels; and share thoughts about future NSSP CoP activities. Final dates will be determined closer to the event.

Abstracts are being accepted here and on the symposium web page through August 20, 2021. If you have questions, please email If you’re interested in planning symposium events or facilitating discussion groups, contact We’d appreciate your input.

We look forward to your participation!

Promoting Interoperability Program Strengthens Incentives for Syndromic Surveillance

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) is taking action to promote sustainability and readiness to respond to future public health emergencies. This aims to strengthen syndromic surveillance in public health jurisdictions that participate in NSSP and those that have locally run systems that can receive syndromic data.

CoP-NSSP Encourages Excerpt

On August 2, 2021, CMS published the final rule for changes to the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program. The rule revises the requirements for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) participating in the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program by now 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. These four measures are currently optional. Under this change, an eligible hospital or CAH will receive 10 points for the Public Health and Clinical Data Exchange objective if they report a ‘‘yes’’ response for all aforementioned measures. The rule will take effect beginning with the reporting period in calendar year 2022.

The final rule requires hospitals with emergency departments (EDs) to attest they are in active engagement with a public health agency to submit data for measures related to nationwide surveillance for early warning of emerging outbreaks and threats. Hospital submission of syndromic data supports public health agencies as they prepare to respond to both future health threats and long-term COVID-19 recovery.

NSSP encourages all public health jurisdictions to attest to their readiness to receive syndromic data. Jurisdictions can do this by receiving messages in a locally administered syndromic surveillance system or sending messages directly to the NSSP BioSense Platform, which makes data available to the jurisdictions’ authorized users. The NSSP onboarding team will help sites coordinate with the facilities to set up data feeds and begin transmission. The NSSP Community of Practice plans to discuss readiness and implications of this final ruling in an upcoming monthly meeting.

FY2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS Final Rule fact sheet
FY2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS Final Rule on the Federal Register
This article includes excerpts from a press release dated August 2, 2021.

Building the Workforce of Tomorrow: STEM at CDC

CDC Stem Website icons

To help inspire science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learners and build the next-generation public health workforce, CDC has launched the STEM at CDC website. The new website provides a gateway to CDC’s STEM-related resources, trainings, fellowships, and more. Here, public health professionals, students, and teachers can learn about careers in public health and how public health brings together STEM disciplines to create a healthier world. The new site also offers pathways for those interested in the core STEM disciplines to consider public health as a career option.

The new STEM at CDC website features resources for:

  • College Students & Public Health Professionals: Find fellowships, programs, and trainings to further public health careers.
  • Career Seekers: Learn how public health is a STEM profession and where it can lead.
  • Students: Access comic series, free apps, and more for fun science exploration for K–12.
  • Teachers: Find lessons, modules, trainings, and events to enhance classroom learning for K–12.
  • Future Disease Detectives: Access engaging videos showcasing CDC in action, the CDC Museum Disease Detective camp, and the CDC Science Ambassador Fellowship.

For more information, please contact #CDCSTEM

NSSP Community of Practice Monthly Call

(decorative image)

Loren Rogers (NSSP/CDC) kicked off the July 2021 NSSP Community of Practice call by sharing program updates:

  • NSSP recently onboarded Hawaii as its 50th state providing emergency department data, which is a huge milestone for the program, as it now works with all 50 U.S. states to monitor health events by tracking patients’ symptoms and diagnoses in emergency departments.
  • A newly released Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on the effects of heat-related ED visits features contributions from NSSP members Kathleen Hartnett, Lakshmi Radhakrishnan, and Abigail Gates.
  • NSSP is adding high-level observations on COVID-19 to the NSSP CoP Slack Workspace. No sensitive data are being shared, and these high-level observations can be viewed on the CDC COVID Data Tracker. More granular data are available in the RShiny reports, which are accessible to individuals with ESSENCE login credentials.
  • The June NSSP CoP call featured a discussion about how to fulfill data requests. NSSP has fulfilled a request from an academic investigator seeking data on suspected suicide attempts from January 2019 through 2021. More details were shared on the NSSP CoP Slack Workspace.

This month’s NSSP Community of Practice Call trending topic, The Possibilities with Data Sharing, hosted by Teresa Hamby (NJ), featured examples of data-sharing collaboration projects.

  • The first presentation covered recent data-sharing efforts between Arizona and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), a collaboration project inspired by North Carolina’s data-sharing experience. Krystal Collier (AZ) described how Arizona and DoD shared data and highlighted the lessons learned, challenges, and solutions. Collier concluded with some recommendations for other public health jurisdictions interested in pursuing a similar collaboration.
  • Drs. Sarah Vick (Col, USAF) and Jamaal Russell (DoD) followed by sharing the DoD perspective on this collaborative project. They explained how installation commanders have responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of the personnel within their military installations. Commanders, however, can be unaware of ongoing public health issues and trends in areas nearby the installation. The data made available through this collaborative project can improve decision-making processes. Dr. Vick highlighted the value of these data, especially since most installations do not have robust medical care treatments or hospitals, which can prompt military personnel to seek care off base. When this happens, the installation’s ability to track trends is hindered. Dr. Russell provided further details about the data being shared and sources (i.e., clinics) and outlined the roles and responsibilities of CDC, DoD, and public health jurisdictions.
  • Grace Marx (CDC) updated attendees on the status of the Tick Bite Data Tracker, which was shared during a previous NSSP CoP call. The tracker’s use of tick bite surveillance can improve public health messaging and help focus outreach efforts when exposure increases. Additionally, the tracker can serve as a valuable public health resource when considering messaging for Lyme disease post-exposure prophylaxis and future Lyme disease vaccinations. Dr. Marx described the current data-sharing efforts across 12 public health jurisdictions, requested feedback, and promoted future opportunities for more jurisdictions to opt-in.
  • The remainder of the call focused on heat-related illness. Emily Prezzato (CDC/National Center for Environmental Health, or NCEH) described the latest iteration of CDC’s Heat & Health Tracker. She shared the feedback NCEH has received and mentioned potential data sharing opportunities. Henri Menager (KS) presented the Kansas Environmental Public Health Tracking and Heat-Related Illness dashboard and its success in sharing information with stakeholders. Laura Fox (AZ) and Meekie Shin (CDC/NCEH) described a project that evaluates the strengths and limitations of using syndromic surveillance. The project looks at data quality captured in ESSENCE and examines discrepancies between ED visit data from ESSENCE and hospital discharge data for asthma and heat-related illness.

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 Data Quality subcommittee is seeking two co-chairs. Please email for details.
  • During the July 2021 DQ Subcommittee call, representatives from different public health jurisdictions discussed their urgent care clinical data practices. Participants were polled to understand how they distinguish between emergency department and urgent care data for surveillance, if hospital-affiliated urgent cares are treated differently from those that operate similarly to a primary care clinic, and how the data quality of urgent cares compares to that of EDs. Participants were also asked what guidance or documentation they use during onboarding to discuss the collection of urgent care data.
  • Link to 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

  • 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

CDC's Date Modernization Initiative to Advance Syndromic Surveillance

“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 a 2021 NSSP Community of Practice call. “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.