The 2013 ISDS Pre-Conference Workshops are shaping up to be an exciting learning experience.
Agenda (pdf; updated 12/2/2013; subject to change)
Track 1: Public Health Surveillance for Beginners
The target audience of this Workshop was healthcare and public health professionals new to public health surveillance practice, as well as graduate students and researchers interested in obtaining a better understanding of public health surveillance.
This Workshop provided exposure to key topics central to public health surveillance and served to orient those who are new to the field. The overall goal of this Track was to “bridge the knowledge gap” in order to enable participants to better understand and apply public health data for informed and meaningful decision-making and to communicate outcomes or results. It included the following: an overview of public health surveillance; demonstrations of syndromic surveillance systems and their integration with novel data sources (Emergency Medical Services (EMS) runs, school absenteeism, poison control, etc.); anomaly detection methods and utility (an inside look at algorithms and their parameter settings); investigation techniques (a “how to” approach, showing the integration of multiple data systems/sources); and communication to stakeholders (creation of surveillance reports and communicating findings).
Track 2: Public Health Surveillance and Policy Issues for Experts
The target audience of this Workshop was healthcare and public health professionals with experience in public health surveillance practice.
This Workshop provided experienced public health surveillance professionals with a forum for learning and discussing current topics and policies essential to public health surveillance and an opportunity to collaborate with other experts in the field to develop practical, concrete products and tools. It included the following: a panel discussion on non-communicable disease surveillance; a series of roundtable discussions, including disaster surveillance/mass gathering response; a follow-up discussion from the 2012 ISDS Conference on (re)defining situational awareness; and break-out sessions to discuss and summarize current policy topics, such as Meaningful Use (U.S.), International Health Regulations (2005), and data sharing. Ultimately, this Workshop was intended to leverage the collective expertise of the group to advance participants’ understanding and practice and to allow for a high-quality and seamless translation of the knowledge gained in the Workshop within the participants’ organizations.
Track 3: Using R for Disease Surveillance
The target audience of this Workshop was healthcare providers, public health practitioners, graduate students, and researchers.
The public health workforce (public health practitioners, healthcare providers, and academicians in research settings) require data, as well as analysis and visualization of that data, to enable and provide informed decision-making, whether clinically-based or policy-based. Continued budgetary restrictions and funding cuts have somewhat hindered the ability to purchase commercial products and applications; therefore, public health has a strong need for exposure to and training with open-source products and tools for data collection, analysis, and visualization. R is a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. It provides a variety of statistical and graphical techniques, and is extensible (http://www.r-project.org/). As an open-source product, R is freely available, and, thus, optimal for use in a variety of settings. This Workshop was a hands-on training in how to use R for epidemiology, disease surveillance and high-quality data visualizations.
Track 4: Introduction to Mapping for Disease Surveillance
The target audience of this Workshop was public health practitioners, graduate students, and researchers.
This Workshop included three components: 1) a concise theoretical introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS), geospatial data and exploratory spatial data analysis in the context of disease surveillance; 2) hands-on training to use QGIS (a free, open-source GIS) to make maps and conduct basic geographic analysis using health data; and 3) an overview of ArcGIS, the industry-standard GIS.