Sunday, January 6, 2013

Biosurveillance & IT Systems

To effectively manage the risks from biological threats and hazards depends on early warnings to help responders obtain adequately analyzed data. Recently, the Office of Health Affairs (OTA) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in their National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC), published their Strategic Plan for the coming years.

The NBIC Strategic Plan requires interagency collaboration, and requires NBIC to emphasize information integration and sharing where appropriate IT systems and data management are needed. NBIC is going to adopt IT platforms designed to accept information from different platforms.

At some time in the future, NBIC will need to develop a federal registry containing information on sources and systems. In addition, new analytic tools and processes will be needed within the research community as well as new computing technologies to help to build more efficient and customer-defined decision support systems. Multidisciplinary, cross-cutting, and in-depth analytical support within NBIC and across agencies will be required to provide real-time and ongoing analyses to senior leaders.

OHA has undertaken several initiatives in the form of small-scale pilot programs to develop building blocks prior to adoption by NBIC. The pilots in progress will focus on food, agriculture, human health, and emerging disease events, state and local integration, social media, and advanced analytics.

Partnership efforts are also underway in the states that will eventually connect to federal efforts. The National Collaborative for Bio Preparedness (NCB-Prepared) a public-private partnership is developing, testing, and plans to implement an advanced biosurveillance system.

The partnership is a collaborative effort involving academia, government, and industry leaders focusing on developing a local bottom-up approach to public health and emergency medical responsiveness and awareness. The system applies advanced analytics to the data received and eventually will include predictive forecasting.

The plans are for NCB-Prepared to develop an operational system to operate in North Carolina and expand to South Carolina and West Virginia to provide alerts and warnings at the state level to contribute data to the national biosurveillance picture.

NCB-Prepared is continuing to incorporate additional states into its states and national biosurveillance data sets and establish sustainability outside of the federal government. If the metrics for success are met by FY 14, then NCB-Prepared data and analysis will be regularly shared and operationally integrated into NBIC.

The Navy is also involved in developing biosurveillance strategies and conducts advanced research and coordinates resources at their new Office of Global Health Engagement. The Office is located at BUMED in Falls Church, Virginia with Commander Glen Diehl, Special Assistant to the Surgeon General of the Navy heading the office. The Office coordinates with health attaches throughout DOD, HHS, and the World Health Organization to keep everyone informed and engaged in the Navy’s current biosurveillance activities.