Syndromic Surveillance


Syndromic surveillance monitors the health of a community using various near real-time data sources including hospital emergency departments, urgent care centers, poison control centers, weather stations, and vital statistics. Data such as chief complaints, discharge diagnoses, and clinical features are analyzed on a centralized platform to discern trends over time and geographically to identify outbreaks and illness clusters. Syndromic surveillance can also provide insights into the health effects of environmental exposures, provide situational awareness about the community and mass gathering events, and assist in case-finding for illnesses that do not have routine surveillance in place. This automated, computer-generated data collection enables public health alerts during emergencies, ensuring timely responses.  

National Picture:    

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) in partnership with the  National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) formed a dynamic Community of Practice (CoP) comprised of state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) public health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and private partners. Monthly meetings focus on sharing best practices, discussing data quality, and exploring analytic tools for syndromic surveillance. The CoP maintains a knowledge repository to encourage innovative data analysis and visualization techniques. Many STLTs utilize the CDC’s BioSense Platform, which includes approximately 6,500 healthcare facilities, and as of September 2023, 78 percent of the nation’s emergency rooms. The CDC’s Public Health Data Strategy aims to reach 80 percent participation from non-federal emergency departments in syndromic surveillance by the end of 2024. An additional goal seeks to establish a data access agreement, adopted by half of NSSP jurisdictions, to enhance data sharing among public health.