Implementing syndromic surveillance: a practical guide informed by the early experience

J Am Med Inform Assoc. Mar-Apr 2004;11(2):141-50. doi: 10.1197/jamia.M1356. Epub 2003 Nov 21.


Syndromic surveillance refers to methods relying on detection of individual and population health indicators that are discernible before confirmed diagnoses are made. In particular, prior to the laboratory confirmation of an infectious disease, ill persons may exhibit behavioral patterns, symptoms, signs, or laboratory findings that can be tracked through a variety of data sources. Syndromic surveillance systems are being developed locally, regionally, and nationally. The efforts have been largely directed at facilitating the early detection of a covert bioterrorist attack, but the technology may also be useful for general public health, clinical medicine, quality improvement, patient safety, and research. This report, authored by developers and methodologists involved in the design and deployment of the first wave of syndromic surveillance systems, is intended to serve as a guide for informaticians, public health managers, and practitioners who are currently planning deployment of such systems in their regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bioterrorism*
  • Confidentiality
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
  • Humans
  • Medical Informatics Applications*
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Public Health
  • United States