2005 marks the fourth year of the Syndromic Surveillance Conference. The first three years, held in NY City and Boston, brought together diverse groups of over 400 public health practitioners, epidemiologist, statisticians, and informaticists. The conference has focused on advancing the state of the science of syndromic surveillance, chronicling the rapid advancement of the field, and discussing the challenges faced in developing these systems and integrating them into public health practice.

Conference Sessions – September 14-15, 2005

The 2005 conference takes place in an environment where critical public health functions, such as surveillance, have been recognized as an essential component of the US Health and Human Services Health IT Strategic Framework. The recent Health and Human Services report on Health IT investment calls on the federal government to provide both leadership and leverage in the adoption of interoperable health IT. This leadership can be seen in federal information integration and surveillance projects such as such as the Public Heath Information Network (PHIN), BioSense, and National Biosurveillance Integration System (NBIS), as well as in the attention public health is paying to the emergence of Regional Health Information Organizations. The new surveillance systems demand strong science, farsighted leadership, and expanded collaboration at the intersection of public health, medicine, informatics, statistics and epidemiology. The 2005 SSC conference will continue to showcase interdisciplinary collaboration to advance disease surveillance.

The conference will include both plenary sessions and oral paper presentation tracks, as well as a poster session. New this year will be a poster showcase focusing on descriptions of existing systems.

Pre-conference Workshop – September 13, 2005
Preliminary Outline

The 2005 Conference features the return of the practically oriented, pre-conference workshop session, first offered at the 2003 conference. The pre-conference workshop is for practitioners from local or state health departments, the federal government, or academic institutions; for people who develop and use syndromic surveillance systems in their daily work.

Two tracks will be offered this year – a general track and a focused track. The general track will cover selected topics from the “A-Z of syndromic surveillance”, from organizational and technical issues of data collection, through classification and event detection, to validation, evaluation, and integration with practice. The session will take a few topics, such as text classification and event detection, and go into those areas in greater detail. The focus track will describe accessible, adaptive alerting methods. Both sections will be focused on the practical – on providing “take home” examples of software and methods for the participants to bring back to their own public health jurisdictions.

Pre-conference workshop registration is restricted to representatives from local or state health departments, the federal government, or academic institutions.

Workshop Learning Objectives:

At the end of the workshop, participants in the general track will understand and have examples of solutions to:

  • Developing memoranda of understanding with data providers
  • Secure data transmission
  • Data collection and integration
  • Chief complaint classification
  • Event detection using freely available software
  • Descriptive system evaluation
  • Chart review techniques

Participants in the focus track will understand and have several examples of solutions to:

  • Chief complaint/Text preprocessing
  • Chief complaint classification
  • Syndrome grouping schemes
  • Event detection algorithms

In addition, participants will have the chance to interactively explore performance characteristics of event detection algorithms.