The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is an active participant in the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NEDSS). Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NEDSS is a system to improve the public health monitoring of diseases. Although a complex system, NEDSS is simply a set of specifications about software, computers, databases, and data and an Internet framework that allows users (e.g., laboratories, county health units) to report communicable diseases to the ADH more efficiently. With NEDSS, users can quickly discover facts about diseases in Arkansas as they occur and can analyze those facts in detail. NEDSS will allow public health professionals to rapidly recognize and respond to disease outbreaks.
The CDC intends for all state and local health departments to use NEDSS standards. In order to promote use of the NEDSS standards, the CDC has invested significant resources to develop the NEDSS Base System (NBS). The NBS is a computer software system developed to capture information and monitor diseases in a secure environment. The ADH has implemented the CDC-developed NBS software.
The overall long-range objective of the Arkansas Department of Health participation in the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NEDSS) is to bring about the sequential replacement and integration of existing stand-alone public health surveillance systems with a distributed system that is architecturally based on de-facto industry standards intended to simplify public health surveillance processes and to add additional functionality that is not provided by the current systems.
The primary benefit will be a streamlined disease data collection, analysis, and reporting process.
This streamlined process will result in:
- Significant improvement in the public health identification, response, and intervention to disease outbreaks.
- Improvements in public health policy-making resulting from better availability of disease data.
Other benefits include:
- Improvements in reporting timeliness and availability of surveillance data
- Better feedback to data providers.
- Improved access to data.
- Improved efficiency of system maintenance (as opposed to multiple different software systems used presently).
- Improved documentation and shared understanding of business processes used for surveillance.
The scope of the ADH NEDSS project includes collecting and analysis of public health disease surveillance data for those conditions on the list of national and state notifiable diseases. Some case management data that specifically support public health surveillance activities is also included. Public health disease surveillance data are typically in the form of registries. Within ADH, this includes the following programmatic areas:
- Infectious Disease
- HIV / STD (Human Immunodeficiency Virus / Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
- TB (Tuberculosis)
Functions or activities included in ADH NEDSS:
- Case and disease data collection functions.
- Case detection through the collection of reported health data, including laboratory reports.
- Case verification that a report meets criteria of a new case within the system.
- Data quality assurance and completeness.
- Case investigation data as needed to determine case morbidity status.
- Analysis of thresholds and patterns, including such things as calculation of rates, analyses of trends, assessment of risks and patterns by person, place and time.
- Routine reporting and messaging functions.
- Data security.
Supporting the project scope is the NEDSS application and hardware architecture. The NBS is a web-enabled software application, and is secured and protected for use only by pre-authorized personnel. The NBS adheres to the architectural elements within the NEDSS specifications, and is consistent with ADH Information Technology Architecture Standards.