Syndromic Surveillance for Meaningful Use: Inpatient and Ambulatory Clinical Care Data – International Society for Disease Surveillance


The Syndromic Surveillance Meaningful Use: Inpatient and Ambulatory Care Data project sought to expand ISDS’s previous meaningful use recommendation through a community consensus-driven process. Given the novelty of syndromic surveillance using these data and the need to identify a base level of practice for the Meaningful Use programs, ISDS used a three-phase, iterative development process that solicited stakeholder input at project initiation and while recommendations were formulated.


The Opportunity

Public health syndromic surveillance using inpatient or ambulatory clinical care data is a relatively new practice. As eligible professionals and hospitals adopt, implement, and upgrade their EHR systems through the CMS EHR Incentive programs (a.k.a., Meaningful Use programs), there is an opportunity for public health authorities to routinely receive health data from settings other than emergency departments and urgent care centers. Public health surveillance, and key other key stakeholders can play an important role in determining how to advance syndromic surveillance practice through Meaningful Use policy.

Given the number of factors and complex relationships that affect EHR data quality, a collaborative approach that includes public health, healthcare and EHR technology developers is the best way to determine how EHR data can be meaningfully used for surveillance. In late-2010, ISDS convened a group of syndromic surveillance experts, and gathered significant stakeholder input to develop guidelines and standards for syndromic surveillance using ED and UC patient encounter data. These recommendations have been translated into a Public Health Information Network Messaging Guide for Syndromic Surveillance, that is being used by the Office of the Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to clarify the public health surveillance measure.

ISDS Meaningful Use Workgroup

ISDS convened a multi-stakeholder committee of clinicians, medical informaticians, technologist, epidemiologists, and public health officials from October 2011 – August 2012 to provide input on the development of the 2012 Recommendations. The Meaningful Use Workgroup guided the development of the ISDS Recommendations to support public health authorities in using Meaningful Use certified hospital inpatient and ambulatory EHR data for timely and effective public health prevention and response. Workgroup members worked with ISDS staff to develop the project artifacts, provide advice about the subject matter, review draft materials, review stakeholder input, and recommend specific guidelines to the stakeholder community within the context of Meaningful Use. ISDS is grateful for the hard work and dedication of the 2011-2012 Meaningful Use Workgroup lead by workgroup chair Geraldine Johnson, MS. To learn more about the workgroup, view the full workgroup bios. 


This project was supported under a contract provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Notifiable Diseases and Healthcare Information.

Contact Information:

If you have any questions or would like further information, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , MPH, ISDS Public Health Analyst.