This month's Health TechNet meeting focused on the important and timely topic of Disease Surveillance: the tracking, analysis, and public health response to disease outbreaks, disasters, and terrorist attacks. As a result of concerns about bird flu and recent natural disasters, federal and state governments are devoting major funding and manpower to preparedness and data collection resources in this area.
Our primary speaker was Dr. Kaveh Safavi, the Chief Medical Officer of Solucient, Inc., a company which has long been in the business of working with hospitals across the country to gather and analyze patient and provider data for the purpose of improving quality of care and operating efficiencies. Dr. Safavi will describe the North Carolina Hospital Emergency Surveillance System (NCHESS), a cooperative project run by Solucient in which the state's hospitals report to a central data bank the symptoms of patients presenting at emergency rooms across the state. These data are analyzed against benchmarks for the appropriate public health response. Syndromic surveillance projects such as this are being implemented in many other parts of the health care system. We also expect to have a speaker from the CDC's Office of Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response to tell us more about the federal government's priorities and activities in this area.
We also heard a presentation on disease surveillance from M. Blake Caldwell, M.D., M.P.H., from the CDC. She is Senior Advisor, Coordinating Center for Health Information and Service, and Special Assistant to the Director for BioSense, National Center for Public Health Informatics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Caldwell is currently the Lead for BioSense where she combines her experience in epidemiology, partnerships, and informatics to help establish this new public health initiative.