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1.  User Experience of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Respiratory Disease Dashboard 
Evaluate the user experience of a novel electronic disease reporting and analysis system deployed across the DoD global laboratory surveillance network
Lessons learned from the 2009 influenza pandemic have driven many changes in the standards and practices of respiratory disease surveillance worldwide. In response to the needs for timely information sharing of emerging respiratory pathogens (1), the DoD Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) collaborated with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) to develop an Internet-based data management system known as the Respiratory Disease Dashboard (RDD). The goal of the RDD is to provide the AFHSC global respiratory disease surveillance network a centralized system for the monitoring and tracking of lab-confirmed respiratory pathogens, thereby streamlining the data reporting process and enhancing the timeliness for detection of potential pandemic threats. This system consists of a password-protected internet portal that allows users to directly input respiratory specimen data and visualize data on an interactive, global map. Currently, eight DoD partner laboratories are actively entering respiratory pathogen data into the RDD, encompassing specimens from sentinel sites in eleven countries: Cambodia, Colombia, Kenya, Ecuador, Egypt, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uganda, and the United States. A user satisfaction survey was conducted to guide further development of the RDD and to support other disease surveillance efforts at the AFHSC.
User training was provided to partner laboratories during a transition of data submission from Excel spreadsheet to RDD electronic data entry between November 2011 and May 2012. A user experience survey was distributed to the participating laboratories in August 2012 and based on the experience of 139 entries. The survey adopted elements of the SWOT (Strength-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis to determine the system’s strengths and weaknesses as well as to solicit users’ perspectives on the efficiency of the system in assisting with disease surveillance data entry and visualization. Questionnaires in an open-ended (free-text response) format were distributed to all eight participating laboratories. Common themes were identified based on the solicited responses.
Although only four of eight participating laboratory partners replied to the survey (50% survey response rate), all survey were completed without any omission of questions (100% completion rate). 2/25 (8%) total responses were neutral comments and therefore omitted in the thematic analysis (Table 1). In general, there was a distinct dichotomy in opinion between overseas laboratories and domestic laboratories with regard to the usefulness of the RDD, with overseas laboratories viewing the RDD as more useful than domestic laboratories. A review of the comparison between weekly specimens submitted to the AFHSC via Excel spreadsheet and data entered directly into the RDD revealed misunderstandings about the meaning of the data entry labels in the RDD interface. It was noted by four laboratories that a “Quick Start” user manual would be useful to clarify the definitions of some data labels.
Overall, this user experience evaluation has identified the needs for additional training on RDD data entry procedures and a “Quick Start” user manual to support the standardization of surveillance definitions. In general, users appreciate the visualization of the global DoD laboratory network data. This evaluation demonstrated the importance of active participation from data contributors and the invaluable organizational support in the development of the RDD as an electronic disease reporting and analysis system.
PMCID: PMC3692836
Outbreak Detection; Disease Surveillance; User Experience Evaluation; Data Management
2.  SAGES Update: Electronic Disease Surveillance in Resource-Limited Settings 
The Suite for Automated Global Electronic bioSurveillance (SAGES) is a collection of modular, flexible, open-source software tools for electronic disease surveillance in resource-limited settings. This demonstration will illustrate several new innovations and update attendees on new users in Africa and Asia.
The new 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), a legally binding instrument for all 194 WHO member countries, significantly expanded the scope of reportable conditions and are intended to help prevent and respond to global public health threats. SAGES aims to improve local public health surveillance and IHR compliance with particular emphasis on resource-limited settings. More than a decade ago, in collaboration with the US Department of Defense (DoD), the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) developed the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE). ESSENCE collects, processes, and analyzes non-traditional data sources (i.e. chief complaints from hospital emergency departments, school absentee data, poison control center calls, over-the-counter pharmaceutical sales, etc.) to identify anomalous disease activity in a community. The data can be queried, analyzed, and visualized both temporally and spatially by the end user. The current SAGES initiative leverages the experience gained in the development of ESSENCE, and the analysis and visualization components of SAGES are built with the same features in mind.
SAGES tools are organized into four categories: 1) data collection, 2) analysis & visualization, 3) communications, and 4) modeling/simulation/evaluation. Within each category, SAGES offers a variety of tools compatible with surveillance needs and different types or levels of information technology infrastructure. SAGES tools are built in a modular nature, which allows for the user to select one or more tools to enhance an existing surveillance system or use the tools en masse for an end-to-end electronic disease surveillance capability. Thus, each locality can select tools from SAGES based upon their needs, capabilities, and existing systems to create a customized electronic disease surveillance system. New OpenESSENCE developments include improved data query ability, improved mapping functionality, and enhanced training materials. New cellular phone developments include the ability to concatenate single SMS messages sent by simple or Smart Android cell phones. This ‘multiple-SMS’ message ability allows use of SMS technology to send and receive health information exceeding normal SMS message length in a manner transparent to the users.
The SAGES project is intended to enhance electronic disease surveillance capacity in resource-limited settings around the world. We have combined electronic disease surveillance tools developed at JHU/APL with other freely-available, interoperable software tools to create SAGES. We believe this suite of tools will facilitate local and regional electronic disease surveillance, regional public health collaborations, and international disease reporting. SAGES development, funded by the US Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, continues as we add new international collaborators. SAGES tools are currently deployed in locations in Africa, Asia and South America, and are offered to other interested countries around the world.
PMCID: PMC3692858
software; surveillance; electronic; open-source
3.  Developing open source, self-contained disease surveillance software applications for use in resource-limited settings 
Emerging public health threats often originate in resource-limited countries. In recognition of this fact, the World Health Organization issued revised International Health Regulations in 2005, which call for significantly increased reporting and response capabilities for all signatory nations. Electronic biosurveillance systems can improve the timeliness of public health data collection, aid in the early detection of and response to disease outbreaks, and enhance situational awareness.
As components of its Suite for Automated Global bioSurveillance (SAGES) program, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory developed two open-source, electronic biosurveillance systems for use in resource-limited settings. OpenESSENCE provides web-based data entry, analysis, and reporting. ESSENCE Desktop Edition provides similar capabilities for settings without internet access. Both systems may be configured to collect data using locally available cell phone technologies.
ESSENCE Desktop Edition has been deployed for two years in the Republic of the Philippines. Local health clinics have rapidly adopted the new technology to provide daily reporting, thus eliminating the two-to-three week data lag of the previous paper-based system.
OpenESSENCE and ESSENCE Desktop Edition are two open-source software products with the capability of significantly improving disease surveillance in a wide range of resource-limited settings. These products, and other emerging surveillance technologies, can assist resource-limited countries compliance with the revised International Health Regulations.
PMCID: PMC3458896  PMID: 22950686
Electronic biosurveillance; Software development; Public health; Disease outbreak; Resource-limited settings

Results 1-3 (3)