Enhanced Influenza Surveillance using Telephone Triage Data in the VA ESSENCE Biosurveillance System

Cynthia A. Lucero-Obusan, Carla A. Winston, Patricia L. Schirmer, Gina Oda, Anoshiravan Mostaghimi, Mark Holodniy


Telephone triage (TT) is a potential data source for biosurveillance. An analysis of Veterans Affairs (VA) TT and visit data for influenza and influenza-like-illness (ILI) was performed for 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons. There were 7,044 influenza-coded calls, 564 hospitalizations, 1,849 emergency/urgent visits, and 416,613 ILI-coded outpatient visits. Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated for influenza-coded calls with hospitalizations (0.77); emergency/urgent visits (0.85); and ILI-outpatient visits (0.88), respectively. For 2011-2012, TT alerted increased influenza activity before other settings. Peak activity was similar across settings for both seasons. TT correlates well with VA healthcare utilization and may provide earlier alerts of influenza activity.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v5i1.4389

Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 * http://ojphi.org