Jurisdictional Usage of the New ESSENCE Word Alert Feature


Syndromic surveillance systems have historically focused on aggregating data into syndromes for analysis and visualization. These syndromes provide users a way to quickly filter large amounts of data into a manageable number of streams to analyze. Additionally, ESSENCE users have the ability to build their own case definitions to look for records matching particular sets of criteria. Those user- defined queries can be stored and analyzed automatically, along with the pre-defined syndromes. Aside from these predefined and user- defined syndromic categories, ESSENCE did not previously provide alerts based on individual words in the chief complaint text that had not been specified a priori. Thus, an interesting cluster of records linked only by non-syndromic keywords would likely not be brought to a user’s attention. 


The objective of this presentation is to describe the new word alert capability in ESSENCE and how it has been used by the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). Specifically, this presentation will describe how the word alert feature works to find individual chief complaint terms that are occurring at an abnormal rate. It will then provide usage statistics and first-person accounts of how the alerts have impacted public health practice for the users. Finally, the presentation will offer future enhancement possibilities and a summary of the benefits and shortcomings of this new feature. 

Primary Topic Areas: 
Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
December, 2016

July 10, 2017

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The National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) is a collaboration among states and public health jurisdictions that contribute data to the BioSense Platform, public health practitioners who use local syndromic surveillance systems, Center for Disease Control and Prevention programs, other federal agencies, partner organizations, hospitals, healthcare professionals, and academic institutions.

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