The Iowa Disease Surveillance System (IDSS) capable of providing surveillance for over 50 different notifiable diseases was recently initiated by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) in their Center for Acute Disease Epidemiology (CADE). Now, local public health agencies, hospital infection control staffs, and CADE will be able to work together to rapidly analyze data and understand the source of infectious disease clusters. This will allow the department to partner more with local public health to prevent and contain disease outbreaks like pertussis.
Although CADE has been using a simple electronic database since 1991, the majority of surveillance information has been in paper form, making it difficult to quickly analyze specific risk factors in time to derail outbreaks. Until recently, collaboration and consultation about specific pockets of infection had to be done by telephone using hand written notes.
The new system will be used by close to 500 enrolled users. In the coming months, hospitals, labs, and local public health agencies will have direct access to information about disease activity in their jurisdictions as well as general information about statewide activity. Several layers of security protect the confidential information and while installation is role specific at each facility, the flow of information is largely automated.
In the coming months, the application will be released to different groups of users across the state with sufficient support from CADE. The tuberculosis program is scheduled to begin using IDSS in 2009. Integrating STD surveillance data is nearing the final stage and will be ready for implementation in 2010.