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Webinar Announcement: BioSense 2.0 Webinar: Heat-Related Illness Surveillance

posted Apr 2, 2014, 6:11 AM by Stephen Brown   [ updated Apr 2, 2014, 6:13 AM ]

Date/Time:   Monday, April 28, 2014, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

Presenters: Fatema Mamou, MPH, Region 6 Epidemiologist, Michigan Department of Community Health
                      Bill Storm, MPH, Syndromic Surveillance Epidemiologist, Ohio Department of Health

In February, ISDS and the BioSense Redesign Team hosted a Webinar on winter weather surveillance. Now, as the weather becomes warmer, we invite you to learn about what two midwestern states do for heat-related illness (HRI) surveillance.

Fatema Mamou and Bill Storm, epidemiologists from Michigan and Ohio, will describe how they conduct HRI surveillance and what they do with the information once it's gathered. They will focus on multiple methodologies and systems, including their states' home syndromic surveillance systems as well as BioSense 2.0. By observing the results and queries from multiple systems, you will learn how different syndrome definitions work in differing settings and instances, and you will be able to compare and contrast the definitions. The presenters will also describe what their jurisdictions do with the HRI data to address such illnesses. For instance, if epidemiologists in Michigan identify a trend in HRI emergency department visits, what actions do they take? How do those actions compare with or differ from Ohio’s approach?

Learning Objectives: 
By the end of this Webinar, participants will be able to:
1. Describe what results on HRI surveillance may look like from different systems;
2. Identify analyses that may be performed in HRI surveillance;
3. Describe the BioSense syndrome for "heat, excessive"; and
4. Describe how the states of Michigan and Ohio use their HRI data.

Please register for this training via this link: 

Database Upgrades

posted Mar 4, 2014, 9:15 PM by Stephen Brown

As part of continuous efforts to improve database performance, we have instituted schema changes to help us keep pace with the rapid growth of BioSense 2.0.  This includes the partitioning to key tables within every database within the Data Warehouse, which began last week.  This work has resulted in a backlog of data in BioSense 2.0, but the data received from February 22nd, 2014 forward should now be visible in each jurisdiction’s locker.  While many users will see a temporary drop in visit counts over the past week, the counts will continue to go up as binning of the data continues.  Please send any questions regarding these database upgrades or any current data drop that you are experiencing to

BioSense 2.0 and Meaningful Use Stage 2 Attestation

posted Feb 20, 2014, 4:40 AM by Stephen Brown

We’ve received some questions recently about the role of BioSense 2.0 and Meaningful Use attestation for Stage 2. Evidence of attestation should be done through the public health jurisdiction in which the eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals are located. If the jurisdiction is participating in BioSense 2.0 as a data provider, they should be able to provide any necessary documentation. If the jurisdiction requires details of their onboarding process to support attestation, they should send a request through  The project team will be able to provide a timeline of the onboarding process including information and technical requests and response dates.

Barbara L. Massoudi, MPH, PhD
Director, Public Health Informatics Program
Center for the Advancement of Health IT
RTI International
2951 Flowers Road, Suite 119
Atlanta, GA 30341

770-986-5062 (O)
770-296-1810 (M)
770-234-5030 (F)
barbara.massoudi (Skype)

BioSense 2.0 and Ambulatory Visit Data

posted Feb 17, 2014, 5:12 AM by Stephen Brown

We’ve received several questions recently about whether BioSense 2.0 has the capability to receive ambulatory care visit data from public health jurisdictions in addition to the emergency department visit data we currently receive. At this time, we cannot receive ambulatory data due to the need for a standardized, community-vetted ambulatory messaging guide, including a minimum data element specification. The future role of ambulatory data in BioSense 2.0 is being actively discussed and we will inform you of any decisions moving forward.
Barbara L. Massoudi, MPH, PhD
Director, Public Health Informatics Program
Center for the Advancement of Health IT
RTI International
2951 Flowers Road, Suite 119
Atlanta, GA 30341
770-986-5062 (O)
770-296-1810 (M)
770-234-5030 (F)
barbara.massoudi (Skype)

Webinar Announcement: BioSense 2.0 Webinar—The Kansas Experience, Health Information Exchanges, and Onboarding

posted Feb 13, 2014, 10:42 AM by Stephen Brown   [ updated Feb 13, 2014, 10:44 AM ]

Date/Time:   Thursday, March 13, 2014, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT

Presenters:    Laura McCrary, EdD, Executive Director, Kansas Health Information Network, Inc.

                        Elizabeth W. (Lou) Saadi, PhD, State Registrar and Deputy Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Public                         Health Informatics, Division of Health at Kansas Department of Health and Environment


Public health jurisdictions participating in BioSense 2.0 can be on-boarded in several ways, including one hospital at a time or through a health information exchange (HIE). Onboarding through an HIE can simplify the process and ease the burden on health departments.

Kansas began onboarding BioSense 2.0 through an HIE in 2012. In this Webinar, Laura McCrary will present an overview of HIEs in Kansas, including the benefits of using them and how they work. Lou Saadi will then discuss the issues from the health department perspective. Her presentation will include information on how to work through the onboarding process and the time and effort involved.

This Webinar will discuss the future: once BioSense 2,0 is set up, what are the next steps? This portion of the presentation will discuss questions about understanding, sorting through, and validating the data. 

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this Webinar, attendees will be able to:
  1. Describe how a jurisdiction can onboard BioSense 2.0 using an HIE;
  2. Describe the benefits of using an HIE;
  3. Assess the likely work effort involved in setting up BioSense 2.0; and
  4. Describe next steps in effective use of BioSense 2.0.
Please register for this training via this link:
Note: This Webinar will be recorded and posted to the BioSense 2.0 Collaboration Web Site.

BioSense 2.0: Line-level Data

posted Feb 6, 2014, 5:27 AM by Stephen Brown   [ updated Feb 6, 2014, 7:22 AM ]

Because the data in BioSense 2.0 belong to the organizations in which they originate (including hospitals, HIEs, and local and state health departments), the organization defines the level of data sharing. Information-sharing permissions are set at the organization level, which means that epidemiologist-level users in an organization have the same level of access to view data. Organizations can include a single hospital or a network of hospitals, HIEs, local and state health departments. (In addition, one individual at each organization will be designated as the data custodian with the responsibility to set the level of data sharing for organization and to approve new user accounts.)

If line-level sharing is allowed for the data you are viewing, you will see a green box to the right of the timeline “Export Line Level Data.” You can click this button to download a comma-separated values (CSV) file that can be opened in Excel, SAS, Stata, SPSS, R, JMP, or other statistical software. (If you cannot find the file, go to your Documents folders in Windows or your Internet Downloads folder.) Assembling the requested dataset is a resource-intensive process and can take the system up to a few minutes, during which the system will say “Loading…” and display a spinner. The file name will start with “line_level_export_for_xxxxxx.csv”.

Data dictionary




Analysis Visit ID


BioSense-generated unique visit identifier. Multiple visits on the same day by a single individual are bundled together.

Visit Date


Date of visit

Patient Zip

5-digit numeric

US Postal Service zone improvement plan number of patient

Patient Age

Numeric (years)

Patient age at time of visit

Patient Gender

Female, male or unknown

Patient sex/gender as recorded by facility

Chief Complaint


Chief complaint text defined by facility



Diagnosis code defined by facility



BioSense/CDC syndrome name



Hospital or clinic name

Facility Zip

5-digit numeric

Clinic/hospital location US Postal Service zone improvement plan number.



Not currently used



Name of BioSense data source

Common error messages

Could not create the export due to error: the database took too long to respond. We were not able to complete the query.
  • You will receive this message if you do not have permission to download line-level information for all the data sources visualized in your query.
Only 3 sources of the 12 sources in your original search allow line-level data export. Exported data will not include all of the data you see in the in the Web display.
(Click OK to proceed.)
  • You will receive this message if other jurisdictions included in your query do not allow users in your jurisdiction to download their line-level data. You will still be able to download data from those sources to which you have access.

Webinar Announcement: Using Surveillance to Prepare and Respond to Winter Weather: Extreme Cold, Ice, and Snow

posted Jan 27, 2014, 10:38 AM by Stephen Brown

Date/Time:  Friday, February 21 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST

For much of the United States, 2014 began with extreme cold and large snowstorms. As a result, surveillance practitioners around the country have been working to identify, gather, and analyze cold weather-related data. This presentation will focus on data analysis and use for winter weather surveillance in both Indianapolis and Boston.
Marcus Rennick from the Marion County Health Department (Indiana) will discuss how emergency department data gathered through local syndromic surveillance, including BioSense 2.0, can be used to examine typical cold-related syndromes, including falls and hypothermia. He will also briefly discuss the effects on number of visits to area hospitals.
Kathryn Kinzel will discuss winter weather syndromes that the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) uses and their associated findings. Finally, Stacey Kokaram will add the perspective of BPHC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness about the way winter weather surveillance is used to support emergency preparedness efforts. She will identify not only how data can be applied to inform preparedness activities, but also the effects on the community at large, including health care entities.
Learning Objectives:
By the end of this Webinar, participants will be able to:
Identify key data used in winter weather surveillance (e.g., from BioSense 2.0);
Describe commonalities in winter weather syndrome definitions;
Discuss effects of winter weather on the community at large; and
Describe the application of winter weather surveillance data to inform preparedness activities.

Please register for this training via this link:
Note: This Webinar will be recorded and posted to the BioSense 2.0 Collaboration Web Site.

BioSense Host Identification Change

posted Dec 27, 2013, 10:39 AM by Amanda Riley suffered an unanticipated disk failure this morning, December 27, 2013. The disk has been restored from backup, however, note that the host identification has changed. If you are using SFTP will see a warning message and may need to update your known_hosts file. BioSense SFTP users that should delete the entry for from your known_hosts file, reconnect, and accept the new host identification.

Please contact us at with any questions.

Recent Bug Fixes

posted Dec 19, 2013, 11:54 AM by Stephen Brown

Thank you to all those who reported bugs and suggested improvements to us during usability testing and via the account. 

Based on your direct input, the following improvements and bug fixes are now live:
  • Fixed bugs in the alert threshold that caused emails to be sent to some users even when alarms were not being detected. The problem was that longer lookback periods did not have complete data.
  • Fixed end date display discrepancy in narrative sentence(s) so that the most recent date cannot exceed data available.
  • Fixed bug that occurred when no date was specified in searches (that would previously default to the year 1969).
  • Fixed tooltip display function (near "population rate" and "EPI Intelligence").
  • Fixed default settings and error messaging for saved alerts with C2 settings that had less than one month of data.

Your input is vital. Please report any suggestions or bugs that you find to


Nabarun Dasgupta

Webinar Announcement: New BioSense 2.0 Features

posted Dec 18, 2013, 7:24 AM by Stephen Brown   [ updated Dec 18, 2013, 7:26 AM ]

Date/Time: Thursday, January 16th, 1:00pm – 2:00pm EST

This Webinar will help you learn about new and upcoming BioSense 2.0 features and how they can enhance your user experience. Nabarun Dasgupta of the BioSense Redesign Team will review new BioSense functionalities and services as well as discuss how binning occurs. He will also preview analytic tools that are being developed. Current BioSense 2.0 users who are familiar with BioSense 2.0 tools and services will find this Webinar instructive, and prospective users will gain a deeper understanding of BioSense 2.0 functionalities.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this Webinar, participants will be able to:
  • Describe the BioSense 2.0 binning system for emergency department visit data
  • Discuss analytic tools that are in development
  • Discuss how BioSense 2.0 can support or augment their agency's population health surveillance work
  • Describe BioSense 2.0 key functionalities
  • Identify new BioSense application functions and services
Please register for this training with this link:

Note: The Webinar will be recorded and posted to the BioSense 2.0 Collaboration Web Site.

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