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Syndromic Surveillance

Syndromic surveillance is a system that allows public health to keep in touch with the health of the community in real time. It can allow for rapid identificiation of possible outbreaks and problems, help public health keep track of ongoing issues, and provide situational awareness about the community.

In Alaska, syndromic surveillance data comes to the Section of Epidemiology via healtheconnect Alaska's health information exchange (HIE). Hospital emergency department visit data is automatically collected, sent to the analysis program, and processed for epidemiologists to review.

Syndromic surveillance in Alaska started with the BioSense program in 2014. Now, we use a new program called ESSENCE, and have many more hospitals participating. This change is part of the National Syndromic Surveillance Program.

What are we using syndromic surveillance for?

Syndromic is used for surveillance of many diseases and conditions. Two examples that the public can see are in the Flu Snapshot on our influenza page and in the opioids dashboard on the OSMAP data website. Both of these examples show syndromic data together with other data sources to give the best picture of a public health problem.

Nationally, syndromic surveillance has been used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alaska has also used syndromic surveillance to monitor the pandemic and related health effects. There is a national effort to make state syndromic data on COVID-19-like Illness (CLI) available. We present some CLI data in our new CLI Snapshot, which will be updated weekly.

For Providers and Facilities

Syndromic surveillance is intended to capture visits for acute or emergent health situations. Emergency departments and urgent care practices may onboard to syndromic surveillance. Facilities interested in onboarding may contact Anna Frick at