Indiana Epidemiology Newsletter
Mike Wade, MPH
Syndromic Surveillance Epidemiologist
Almost as dynamic as the near real-time data the system analyzes, the Indiana Public Health Emergency Surveillance System (PHESS) continues to evolve, achieving many significant milestones along the way.
The PHESS is Indiana’s syndromic surveillance system. The system’s purpose is to detect acts of bioterrorism, disease outbreaks, and other public health emergencies. Emergency department chief complaint data from 70 hospitals across Indiana are securely transmitted in real-time to the Regenstrief Institute at the Indiana University School of Medicine and then to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) every three hours for analysis. Additionally, over-the-counter drug sales and school absenteeism data are included in the PHESS.
Most recently, the PHESS began submitting syndromic surveillance data to BioSense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) nationwide biosurveillance program. While individual health care providers and hospitals send data to BioSense, in some cases coordinated at the county level, the PHESS is the first statewide syndromic surveillance program to do so.
The purpose of the BioSense program is to conduct syndromic surveillance at the national level, analogous to the PHESS’s statewide role in Indiana. Ultimately, BioSense will help identify and track significant health-related events to better protect the public’s health. The CDC BioSense team is currently working with many states and counties in an effort to connect data sources, as they did with Indiana. A major strength of the BioSense model is that data from different hospitals and health facilities across the country will be processed and presented in one common format. These standardized surveillance data should facilitate communication and coordination among federal, state, and local public health officials.