Health information privacy and syndromic surveillance systems

MMWR Suppl. 2004 Sep 24;53:221-5.


The development of syndromic surveillance systems to detect potential terrorist-related outbreaks has the potential to be a useful public health surveillance activity. However, the perception of how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule applies to the disclosure of certain public health information might affect the ability of state and local health departments to implement syndromic surveillance systems within their jurisdictions. To assess this effect, a multiple-question survey asked respondents to share their experiences regarding patient confidentiality and HIPAA Privacy Rule requirements when implementing syndromic surveillance systems. This assessment summarizes the results of a national survey of state terrorism-preparedness coordinators and state epidemiologists and reflects the authors' and others' experiences with implementation.

MeSH terms

  • Bioterrorism / prevention & control
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / prevention & control
  • Confidentiality*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Public Health Informatics*
  • United States