Monthly Archives: June 2014

BioSense Usability Testing at NACCHO Annual – Tuesday and Wednesday July 8-9, 2014!

Please see the below invite for an exciting opportunity on BioSense usability testing at the NACCHO Annual Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 8-9, 2014!

The BioSense Redesign team would like to invite you to participate in our one-on-one usability testing sessions at the upcoming NACCHO conference in Atlanta, GA on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 8-9, 2014. Below you will find further details. Thank you for your interest.

The CDC BioSense Program provides local, state, and federal partners a timely regional and national picture of trends in disease syndromes and situation awareness. BioSense has been redesigned by RTI International to shift the program’s focus to meet the needs of stakeholders and end users in state and local health departments, CDC programs, hospitals, and other federal agencies (i.e. DoD and VA) to improve regional and national coverage. You can learn more about the Program by watching this brief video: and visiting the BioSense Collaboration Site

A major part of the redesign is to conducting one-on-one user testing sessions with potential users of BioSense 2.0. This allows us to collect feedback which is then used make enhancements and updates to the application.

We are attending the upcoming NACCHO conference with the hope of meeting public health professionals to conduct user testing and discuss the application. We are particularly interested in working with epidemiologists and those responsible for disease surveillance activities in their health departments.

By taking part in this evaluation, you have the opportunity to influence the design of BioSense 2.0. If you are interested in meeting with us, please contact us at and we will work with you to schedule a convenient time.

The session will consist of three activities:


We’ll provide you with an introduction to the BioSense 2.0 application and demonstrate some of its features. You’ll be free to ask anything you like about the application.

Scenario-based process

We will describe real-world scenarios to you, and ask you to use the application to work through the activities. The computer used to complete the tasks on BioSense 2.0 will capture data such as time on task, navigation of the site, and visual areas of interest that will help us to determine the best redesign of BioSense 2.0.

Complete the System Usability Scale

In this final portion of the session, we will ask you to complete a few questions about your experience with the system.

Please click on the below link for more information


Building Informatics Capacity Through Workforce Development

Sarah Chughtai, MPP

Program Analyst, Informatics

On Monday June 23rd, NACCHO’s Informatics Team collaborated with the Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII) on a webinar “Building Informatics Capacity Through Workforce Development”. The webinar featured speakers, Deb Bara from PHII and Lisa Silverman from NACCHO. The purpose of the webinar is to inform the public health community on challenges posed by informatics workforce development activities at local health departments (LHDs). These activities include recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of informatics professionals. The webinar included a discussion of the common challenges that health departments face recruiting Informatics professionals. The discussion topics encompassed areas related to establishing competitive salaries, finding a professional with the appropriate skill set, and distinguishing between Information Technology (IT) and Informatics positions in regards to skills, knowledge, and abilities.

Deb Bara began the session by posing a question to the audience on the challenges public health departments are facing hiring Informatics professionals. Deb addressed the challenges above and also spoke about the difficulties in creating position descriptions, for example, educational requirements needed for a certain salary grade. Many health departments struggle with finding academically trained individuals to fill those positions. As mentioned earlier, a common topic of difficulty is distinguishing between IT and Informatics positions to potential job seekers.

Deb spoke of a human resource concept “paramount knowledge”. Paramount knowledge refers to determining how one position is distinct from another position. Human resource professionals need to consider the most important subject-matter knowledge that is needed to perform the duties of the position. In addressing the difference between IT and Informatics, Deb used a conceptual framework developed by Marty LaVenture at the Minnesota Health Department. IT focuses on technology, it is the science of computation, its paramount knowledge is derived from computer science, and the objective of the area is to provide well-designed, functional and maintained technology. Informatics focuses on information, people, and processes. It is the science of information and its paramount knowledge is derived from several disciplines such as business, policy, biomedical data, and public health. The objective of Informatics is to improve processes that support a skilled workforce.

Lisa’s presentation focused on the objectives of inter-professional education (IPE). Lisa is on the Workforce Development Team at NACCHO and is part of Project SHINE. The purpose of Project SHINE is to strengthen applied epidemiology and informatics capacity in health departments by maintaining a public health informatics fellowship program, increasing Informatics mentorship at public health departments, and developing workforce competency. Lisa explained the competency areas which are teams/team work, communication, roles/responsibilities, and values/ethics. During the chat discussion with the audience, Sharefa Aria from Tarrant County Health Department, explained the importance of having organizations like NACCHO provide resources to health departments on techniques they can employ to improve workforce development. Sharefa also discussed the importance of mentoring junior informatics staff to help pave a better future for them not only in their health department, but also the public health community.

The webinar provided great insight into workforce development issues local health departments are facing, especially regarding the intricacies for hiring Informatics professionals. The presentation fostered conversation among the speakers and representatives from health departments on issues they are experiencing in the field and how organizations like NACCHO and PHII can better assist public health departments across the country in this capacity.

If you would like to view the webinar, please click the link below.



NACCHO – PHII Webinar this Monday, June 23rd “Building Informatics Capacity Through Workforce Development”

Please join NACCHO and PHII this Monday, June 23rd for an exciting webinar on building informatics capacity in local health departments through workforce development!


Title: Building Informatics Capacity through Workforce Development

Date: June 23, 2014

Time: 3:00- 4:00 PM EDT

Join: Reserve your Webinar seat now


The challenges to building the informatics capabilities of public health agencies are many and varied. A common challenge is related to workforce development activities to recruit, select, hire, train and retain individuals that have the combination of skills and competencies needed by informatics professionals. Some of these challenges are related to establishing competitive salaries, finding individuals with the appropriate skill sets and distinguishing between IT and Informatics positions, skills, knowledge and abilities.

The webinar presentation is intended to

  • Increase awareness of common workforce related challenges to building informatics capability.
  • Increase awareness of products and resources that are available to assist local health agency staff to develop informatics position descriptions.
  • Provide an opportunity to hear how your colleagues have addressed informatics challenges in their organizations.

In 2013, CDC sponsored an opportunity that supported NACCHO and the Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII) to develop useful tools to assist public health agency staff to address of these issues. As an emerging discipline, the resources to assist public health agencies to establish informatics capacity at an agency level were limited. The partners established a process to draft, review and create example position descriptions for public health agencies to utilize within their organizations to establish informatics positions. These included sample position descriptions for the executive, management, clinical, and professional levels, and a brief description of a professional career ladder that describes the various positions for professionals that seek further career growth. A cross-walk document that links informatics competencies to tasks and duties was also created to assist agencies to develop position descriptions for various types of informatics jobs.

Free Online Training Module on Biosurveillance!

Please check out a new resource from the North Carolina Institute for Public Health – “Core Information Needs for Situational Awareness and Response Management”. This 30-minute online training module presents the current landscape of biosurveillance, needed improvements to systems, and the next steps to enhance situational awareness. Please see below for more information!

This training module can be accessed on the North Carolina Institute for Public Health Training Web Site:  This training is available at no cost.

This module is based on the report developed by the North Carolina Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in collaboration with the Public Health Informatics Institute, and sponsored by the CDC.  The learning objectives for this module are:

  • Define situational awareness and response management
  • Describe the current state and challenges of situational awareness
  • Identify core information sources for situational awareness and response management
  • Determine how biosurveillance can be improved
  • Identify biosurveillance requirements necessary for public health professionals to perform duties

Additional information, including relevant competencies, is available at the URL provided above.

Upcoming Webinar Thursday! “Prioritizing Your Biosurveillance Enhancements”

The NACCHO Informatics Group is looking forward to hearing from some great speakers, Dr. Chesley Richards (Deputy Director for Public Health Scientific Services and Director, Office of Public Health Scientific Services at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and Dr. Perry Smith (Research Professor Epidemiology, State University of New York at Albany).  Dr. Richards will discuss the CDC’s new surveillance strategy and Dr. Smith will discuss an analysis of costs related to developing and maintaining surveillance systems.  Please scroll down for more information!

Title       Beneficial Practices for Improving Biosurveillance: Prioritizing your Biosurveillance Enhancements

Date      Thursday, June 5

Time      2:00 to 3:30pm EDT

Join     Reserve your Webinar seat now at

Please join us for a conversation with Dr. Chesley Richards, Deputy Director for Public Health Scientific Services and Director, Office of Public Health Scientific Services at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to hear the latest progress report on implementing CDC’s new surveillance strategy, including such immediate plans as establishing a surveillance leadership board and the funding of small informatics projects this year. There will be discussion of how CDC’s strategy may affect surveillance at the state and local levels.

In addition, Dr. Perry Smith, Research Professor Epidemiology, State University of New York at Albany and former New York State Epidemiologist, will discuss an analysis of the costs of developing and maintaining surveillance systems, illustrating the dependence on multiple and sustained funding streams.

The webinar will be hosted by Dr. Ed Baker (Project PI and Research Professor, Health Policy and Management, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and Dr. James Buehler (Professor, Department of Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health, Drexel University).

Public health preparedness and surveillance professionals are invited to participate in this webinar.

View archives of the 3 previous webinars in the series and access selected resources:

Questions? Contact Carol Gunther-Mohr, Webinar Coordinator, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The webinar series is presented in partnership with Dialogue4Health and the North Carolina Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (NCPERRC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.