Civilian-military Collaboration: Department of Defense data in the BioSense Platform

Jessica Deerin, Jean-Paul Chretien, Paul E. Lewis


ObjectiveThe Department of Defense data is available to NationalSyndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) users to conduct syndromicsurveillance. This report summarizes the demographic characteristicsof DoD health encounter visits.IntroductionThe DoD provides daily outpatient and emergency room data feedsto the BioSense Platform within NSSP, maintained by the Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention. This data includes demographiccharacteristics and diagnosis codes for health encounter visits ofMilitary Health System beneficiaries, including active duty, activeduty family members, retirees, and retiree family members. NSSPfunctions through collaboration with local, state, and federal publichealth partners utilizing the BioSense Platform, an electronic healthinformation system.MethodsDoD data was pulled from the BioSense Platform through aRStudio server on October 11, 2016, querying data from November1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. Appointment type and beneficiarycategory data was not available in BioSense until November 1, 2015.Appointment type was categorized into clinic visits and telephoneconsults. Demographic characteristics (age group, gender, beneficiarycategory) are stratified by appointment type.ResultsDuring the time period of November 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016,data were received from 452 clinics. There is a military treatmentfacility located in 45 states and a military treatment facility mayhave one to 12 clinics. There were a total of 86,840,632 healthcareencounter records. The age group, 25-44 years, accounted for 39.4%of the medical encounters; the mean age was 33.9 (SD=19.1). Malesaccounted for 55.6% of the medical encounters. For the time periodfrom November 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016, 78.9% of medicalencounters were clinic visits. The remaining medical encounterswere telephone consults. Of the clinic visits, 53.7% of the medicalencounters were for active duty personnel.ConclusionsThis report highlights the DoD data available to NSSP users forcollaborative syndromic surveillance efforts, promoting a communityof practice. It is important to understand the population demographicsand limitations to the DoD data when conducting syndromicsurveillance.

Full Text:



Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *