About Syndromic Surveillance & BioSense 2.0

In Stage 1 (prior to April 1, 2013) of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program, eligible providers (EPs) and eligible hospitals (EHs) were able to choose one of the three required public health reporting measures as part of their demonstration of the menu set measures for attesting to the Meaningful Use (MU) of certified EHR technology (CEHRT). However, in the state of Kentucky, reporting immunizations (if administering immunizations) was the only option available to EPs and EHs. Starting on April 1, 2013, EPs and EHs can now select syndromic surveillance as a public health reporting option.

Syndromic surveillance (SS) is a type of public health monitoring that uses medical data and statistical analysis to detect unusual activity that merits further investigation. Its primary goal is early detection of infectious diseases to reduce the risk of widespread infection. Syndromic surveillance provides timely public health information, often sooner than a laboratory test can be completed, and allows local, state, and federal public health to detect and respond to outbreaks more quickly.

This requirement is similar to the immunization objective in that providers are required to perform at least one ‘test’ submission of their certified EHR’s capability to send to public health agencies, except where prohibited, with a follow-up submission if successful.  The objective for stage 1 of meaningful use for EPs is the capability to submit electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies and actual submission except where prohibited and in accordance with applicable law and practice. The measure required is to perform at least one test of certified EHR technology’s capability to provide electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies and follow-up submission if the test is successful (unless none of the public health agencies to which an EP submits such information have the capacity to receive the information electronically). For Stage 2 of meaningful use, the measure is the successful ongoing submission of electronic syndromic surveillance data during the entire EHR reporting period.

The objectives and measures for stage 1 and stage 2 of meaningful use for EHs and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) are the same as the eligible providers, but they may also select reportable diseases/labs. Reportable diseases/labs require a lab feed, and hospitals must be using Logical Observations Identifiers, Names and Codes (LOINC). For Stage 2 of MU, syndromic surveillance moves to a core measure for hospitals and remains a menu measure for providers. Hospitals will be required to provide electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies as part of the core MU measures. The automated syndromic surveillance data compiled through Meaningful Use (MU) provides data streams for longer term, ongoing analysis of chronic conditions. Currently, EPs or EHs that do not administer immunizations can continue to choose this public health exclusion and in stage 2 of meaningful use, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), outlines additional exclusions.

In order to attest the syndromic surveillance objective, eligible providers and hospitals must begin the onboarding process with the Kentucky Health Information Exchange (KHIE), in order to submit syndromic surveillance data. The KHIE will monitor the patient demographics for chief complaints and forward the information on to the Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via BioSense 2.0, a CDC web-based solution in the internet cloud where health officials at state and local public health agencies can monitor or assess sydnromic activity within and beyond their jurisdictions.

Click here to view the educational packet that Kentucky REC clients received in the mail.

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