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Syndromic Surveillance Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) accepting syndromic surveillance data for Meaningful Use?

Yes, ADH accepts syndromic surveillance messages from organizations seeking to fulfill their Meaningful Use public health requirement. For more information, please visit the Syndromic Surveillance Meaningful Use webpage.

2. Which entities in Arkansas should submit syndromic surveillance messages during Meaningful Use Stage 1?

Syndromic surveillance data for urgent care and emergency room visits as well as inpatient admissions are accepted from eligible hospitals and eligible professionals.

ADH accepts syndromic surveillance data from other ambulatory care settings on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in reporting outpatient data to ADH, please complete the MURCS registration.

3. What is syndromic surveillance, and how will Meaningful Use reporting improve public health capability to monitor the health of Arkansas?

Syndromic surveillance is defined as public health surveillance using pre-diagnostic healthcare data and statistical tools to detect and characterize events requiring public health investigation.

The goal of syndromic surveillance Meaningful Use reporting is to provide public health with timely information that allows local, state, and federal public health authorities to detect and respond to outbreaks and health events more quickly.

Collection of syndromic surveillance Meaningful Use data will enable public health to monitor healthcare utilization for infectious diseases (e.g. influenza), non-infectious conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, and injuries), or natural disasters or environmental exposures.

We anticipate that the expanded set of data elements collected through Meaningful Use will improve public health capability to detect, characterize, and track events of public health significance.

4. For which conditions do I send syndromic surveillance data?

Unlike reportable conditions where you would send information to public health for a select number of conditions, syndromic surveillance requires sending limited, de-identified data on every visit to your facility. The goal of syndromic surveillance is to provide a flexible, all-hazards system that can be used to monitor different aspects of population health as the need arises. This cannot be accomplished using traditional disease reporting. For additional guidance on what data should be included in a syndromic surveillance message, please view the current syndromic surveillance messaging standards.

5. Our facility is currently sending syndromic surveillance data to public health. Does this reporting meet the Meaningful Use criteria?

While we appreciate our early adopters who began providing data to public health prior to Meaningful Use, this does not meet Meaningful Use requirements.

In order to satisfy these criteria, an expanded set of data must be sent from an Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) certified Electronic Health Record system to the Arkansas Department of Health using an HL7 2.5.1 message format. HL7 2.5.1 is preferred for Stage 1 and is required for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use.

ADH accepts syndromic surveillance messages from organizations seeking to fulfill their Meaningful Use public health requirement. For more information about sending Meaningful Use compliant syndromic surveillance data, please visit Syndromic Surveillance Meaningful Use webpage.

6. What are current standards and guidelines for submitting syndromic surveillance data?

You can find links to the current syndromic surveillance messaging standards on our on-boarding pages. These guides serve as a reference for emergency departments and urgent care centers.

7. I am a vendor representing several clinics (or facilities). Do we need to complete the on-boarding process for each clinic or facility that we represent?

Yes, the on-boarding process must be completed by (or on behalf of) each entity attesting for Meaningful Use. For more information about how to handle healthcare organizations with multiple facilities or clinics with multiple providers, please refer to the next two questions.

8. Our healthcare organization consists of multiple clinics and/or hospitals. Does each of our clinics and/or hospitals need to complete the on-boarding process (e.g. submit an enrollment form and test message) for Meaningful Use?

If all data for your organization is centralized AND syndromic surveillance messages will be generated centrally for all entities in your organization, you only need to complete the on-boarding process once.

In this situation, ADH will require supplemental information (e.g. name, physical address, NPI) be provided for each clinic or hospital that will be included in your organization’s data feed.

If data from your organization is not held centrally, you can proceed through the initial on-boarding process as though the data are centralized, if:

  • All sites are using the SAME implementation of a single certified electronic health record (EHR) system, AND
  • Variability has not been introduced into the EHR systems as a result of differences in business practices at each site.

ADH will need to test the individual transport mechanism from each site that will be generating and sending syndromic surveillance messages.

The on-boarding process needs to be completed for each site, if:

  • Data from your organization are not held centrally, AND
  • The EHR system has been modified, or different EHR systems are in use, at one or more sites.

This helps ensure the appropriate level of validation will be conducted.

It is not necessary to complete this process for each individual provider in your organization.

We anticipate there are many scenarios we have not addressed here. If you are still not sure what to do, please contact ADH.SYNDROMIC.MU@arkansas.gov for additional assistance.

9. Our clinic has several practicing providers. Does each provider need to complete the on-boarding process for Meaningful Use?

No. A clinic may complete the on-boarding process on behalf of all providers that primarily practice at the clinic.

10. Will we be able to complete the on-boarding process during our 90-day reporting period?

The Arkansas Department of Health cannot promise you will be able to complete the on-boarding process during your 90-day reporting period, but you will improve chances of success if you start the process as early as possible (i.e. before the 90-day window begins).

ADH uses a queue system for those interested in submitting syndromic surveillance data for Meaningful Use. Eligible hospitals and professionals must complete steps 1-3 of the on-boarding process to be placed in the queue. Placement in the queue meets the Stage 1 Meaningful Use attestation requirements.

11. Will we be notified by the Arkansas Department of Health that we have completed the necessary on-boarding steps required for attestation?

Once you have successfully completed steps 1-3 of the on-boarding process, Arkansas Department of Health will send you a letter via email indicating your placement into the queue. Placement into the queue meets Stage 1 Meaningful Use attestation requirements.

12. How do I get started?

Please see the Syndromic Surveillance On-Boarding Instructions.