The BioSense program, initiated in 2004, is an innovative biosurveillance program designed to increase the
nation’s emergency preparedness through the development of a national network for real time disease
detection, monitoring, and health situational awareness. BioSense functions through the secure transmissions
of clinical care data from hospitals to CDC or a state or local system. The data is then analyzed, interpreted,
and displayed through user interface tools that give public health and healthcare professionals various means
of exploring the data sets. The program receives and displays data from 1730+ hospitals across the country.
This data is used by the CDC BioIntelligence Center (BIC) to detect and monitor disease trends. Hospitals
in the BioSense System include Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, as well as
private and other publicly funded healthcare institutions.
In late 2007, NCPHI accelerated efforts to redesign the program in order to improve collaboration with
federal, state, and local public health stakeholders and leverage recent advances in informatics. BioSense
solicited input from stakeholders across the country to transition the program to meet our nation’s public
health threats. As a result, BioSense has evolved significantly through the adoption of recent knowledge and
The BioSense program is intended to improve the nation’s capabilities for conducting real-time biosurveillance
through the support of local, state, and federal efforts. BioSense seeks to enhance national health situational
awareness through access to existing data from healthcare organizations across the country. The BioSense
program’s vision is to provide an integrated picture of the health of the nation today and the health of its
Its mission is to comprehensively monitor the healthcare system of the United States, collecting data on
the scope and severity of acute health threats to the public health, and supporting national, state, and local
responses to those threats.
The core principles are:
• Communication and Collaboration: To strengthen public health informatics capacity and capability,
promote community participation, encourage knowledge sharing, and enhance stakeholder value.
• Transparency: To improve system operations, ensure operational excellence and leverage existing state,
regional, and community level capabilities and solutions.
• Innovation: To advance the research and practice of biosurveillance and informatics.
The next generation of BioSense will enhance the application’s technical foundation to address key
opportunities and challenges facing the program. Through communication and collaboration with stakeholders,
the BioSense program will address requirements for data stewardship as well as data access at both the local,
state, regional and national levels.
• Developing an open-source integrator and service platform called
Cardea. The Cardea platform will provide support for the sharing of
large amounts of biosurveillance data by utilizing grid technology. It is
currently being piloted with a state public health department.
• Awarding additional Centers of Excellence to continue furthering the
science of biosurveillance.
• Supporting Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) to provide public
health access to rich clinical data sets and demonstrate the role of
HIEs in supporting notifiable disease reporting.
• Initiated pilot efforts for the development of a standard related to summary exchange data (i.e. Geocoded
Interoperable Population Summary Exchange).
• Integrated real-time ELR (Electronic Laboratory Reporting) capabilities into surveillance systems, allowing
healthcare organizations to electronically submit laboratory results to the appropriate public health
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