Surveillance Strategy Report — Syndromic Reporting
Health Security Starts Locally
Following 9/11, initial investments were made in enhancing syndromic surveillance as an early warning system for bioterrorism. This system now allows officials to detect a much wider range of health threats—from opioid overdoses to chemical spills to outbreaks. Equipping communities with diverse, real-time health data that reflect local realities enables faster decision making and better protects Americans.
Syndromic surveillance serves as an early alert for health events by tracking symptoms such as respiratory distress, fever, and vomiting—before a diagnosis is confirmed. Emergency departments and other sources pdf icon[PDF – 1.3 MB] send this information as electronic messages to public health agencies. Messages are monitored daily to understand usual levels of illness and to detect changes that require a response.
“Building strong health security infrastructure takes innovation and partnerships at all levels of public health, coordination across government agencies, and multiple public-private partnerships.”
Paula Yoon, ScD, MPH
Director, Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance, CDC
Natural and manmade disaster response needs
Putting Data to Work: From Signal to Response
Using data from emergency departments nationwide to track symptoms has become a model for electronic data exchange between health care and public health. CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program helps connect local, state, and national public health agencies to data from more than 4,000 healthcare facilities in 45 states, and Washington, DC. Officials can unite nationwide and act quickly when something unusual happens. They can also monitor how well their response is working and adjust as needed.
Enhancing syndromic surveillance and linking multiple data sources is one focus area of CDC’s strategy to improve surveillance data
Moving the Dial: Faster Reporting, Saving Time
Number of electronic health
messages received each day
from emergency room visits
Percent of all emergency room
visits reported to health departments—
up from 45% in 2014
Hours to report
Electronic Laboratory Reporting: Moving Lab Reporting at the Speed of Light
Michael A. Coletta, MPH
Surveillance innovations can lead to higher efficiency and faster decision-making at the local, state, and national levels.
Keywords: syndromic surveillance, surveillance workforce, electronic data