Enhancing public health disease surveillance capability: Exercising the national capital region syndromic surveillance network
Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest
Over the past decade, local, state, and national public health agencies in the United States have, to varying degrees, started using electronic disease surveillance systems. Some systems rely on traditional reporting mechanisms, but others use automatically generated electronic clinical and nonclinical health-indicator data to discern unusual disease patterns in the community. In many instances, such systems have provided valuable adjunct surveillance opportunities and established collaborations between public health practice and other public and private agencies. This article describes four simulated tabletop exercises of varying complexity conducted by using the National Capital Region Syndromic Surveillance Network. These exercises served as a tool for the public health agencies to test system capabilities and their own surveillance capacities under simulated health events, and they fostered vital interjurisdictional collaborations. The information gleaned from these exercises played a vital part in the continued refinement of the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE).