Webinar – Making the Best Use of Textual ED Data for Syndromic Surveillance – International Society for Disease Surveillance


Tuesday, July 21, 2015 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET


Debbie Travers, PHD, RN, FAEN, Associate Professor at UNC School of Nursing
Julia Gunn, RN, MPH, Boston Public Health Commission, Director of the Commmunicable Disease Control Division


In this webinar Dr. Travers will review two tools developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which aid in processing textual CC’s and triage notes in support of syndromic surveillance. Textual data from emergency departments (EDs) is a common source of data for syndromic surveillance. In the last few years the adoption of electronic health records systems in EDs has improved the availability of timely electronic data from EDs for secondary uses however using these data for syndrome surveillance can still be problematic.

Chief complaints from ED visits are a common data source for syndromic surveillance, but there is still no standard for documenting CC. EDs still customize their own CC pick lists, and additionally many allow free text entries. Another source of symptom data from EDs is triage notes, which are documented with methods such as point and click phrase builders and free text entry by ED nurses.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this webinar participants will be able to:

1.   Identify tools for processing textual ED chief complaint and triage note data for syndromic surveillance.

2.    Describe the process for obtaining Emergency Medical Text Process (EMT-P) and the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS).
3.    Discuss the benefits and challenges of using triage notes for syndromic surveillance.

Webinar Making the Best Use of Textual ED Data for Syndromic Surveillance 7-21-15, 1.00 PM from ISDS on Vimeo.

Debbie’s slides

Julia’s slides

Associated publications: Travers D, Haas SW, Waller AE, et al. Implementation of Emergency Medical Text Classifier for Syndromic Surveillance. AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings. 2013;2013:1365-1374.