Onboarding Guide


This document describes the processes, tools, and activities for onboarding new data feeds and sites into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Syndromic Surveillance Program's (NSSP) BioSense Platform.

All the information included on the website is accessible in its entirety in the BioSense Onboarding Guide, the primary guide for onboarding new data feeds into the program.

Onboarding is the process of working with a facility, department of health, vendor for electronic health records, or health information exchange to transmit syndromic surveillance data from internal medical records systems to the NSSP BioSense Platform, assess adherence to the Public Health Information Network (PHIN) syndromic surveillance messaging guidance, and begin a live data feed to the BioSense Platform.


The audience for this document includes administrators, managers, and technical representatives for sites, jurisdictions, health information exchanges, and individual hospitals or medical facilities participating in syndromic surveillance.

Website Organization

This website is organized into the following sections:

Overview – documents overview and target audience

Planning – provides information about prerequisites, planning, and expectations

Onboarding Methodology – describes the onboarding phases and process

Data Integration – identifies the core technical specifications and configuration details for integrating a new feed into the BioSense Platform

Data Security – summarizes information security

Support & FAQs - describes how to get support once feeds are in production, and answers additional questions

Appendices - provides material to assist with onboarding

BioSense Overview

The National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) is CDC's initiative for capturing, sharing, and analyzing syndromic surveillance data. NSSP is a collaboration among local, state, and national public health programs to facilitate the timely exchange and use of targeted syndromic surveillance data. These data help public health officials detect, monitor, and respond quickly to local public health threats and events of public health importance.

NSSP groups facilities under a single administrative authority called a site. Sites are the agencies (usually local or state health departments) that have the relationship with facilities that provide data. A site may oversee any number of facilities, with all facilities sharing the same site administrator. Examples of facilities include hospital emergency departments, outpatient clinics, and ambulatory care centers.

NSSP's BioSense Platform is the core component of this integrated, nationwide system for public health syndromic surveillance. NSSP provides resources and technical assistance to help sites with onboarding syndromic surveillance feeds for health information exchanges (HIEs), health departments, hospital systems, and individual hospital and healthcare facilities.

Acronym Definition
AC Ambulatory Care
ADM Analytic Data Management; team who provide analytic expertise and support for NSSP.
ADT HL7-based healthcare facility message type specific to an Admit, Discharge, and Transfer activity
ASTHO Association for State and Territorial Health Officials
ATO Authorization to Operate
BioSense Platform Cloud-based computing environment; core component of the National Syndromic Surveillance Program
BOPA BioSense Platform Onboarding Process Acknowledgment
C&A Certification and Accreditation
CA Certifying Authority
CWE Coded With Exception
CMS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
DAA Designated Approving Authority
DOH Department of Health for a site's jurisdiction (i.e., state, county or other)
DUA Data Use Agreement
ED Emergency Department
EHR Electronic Health Record
FIPS Federal Information Processing Standard
FISMA Federal Information Security Management Act
HIE Health Information Exchange
HIS Health Information System
ICD International Classification of Diseases
ISDS International Society for Disease Surveillance
MFT Master Facility Table
MU Meaningful Use
NIST National Institute of Science and Technology
NPI National Provider Identifier
NSSP National Syndromic Surveillance Program
OCISCO Office of the Chief Information Security Office
OIDS Globally unique ISO (International Organization for Standardization) identifier
PHDSC Public Health Data Standards Consortium
PHIN Public Health Information Network
PHINMS Message transport system used in public health
PII Personally Identifiable Information
PID Patient ID
Site The NSSP model groups facilities (i.e., hospital emergency department, outpatient clinic) that provide data under a single data administrative authority, called a site administrator. These facilities and single-site administrator constitute a site.
SFTP Secure File Transfer Protocol
SSH Secure Shell; a protocol to allow remote login and enable network services to operate securely
UC Urgent Care
VADS Vocabulary Access and Distribution System