By June 26, 2018 On the Road

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) promotes the interests of public health epidemiologists by providing information, education, and developmental support for practicing epidemiologists across the United States ( They often partner with the CDC and other federal agencies to coordinate public health and surveillance efforts and policy. CSTE holds their Annual Conference each year, bringing over 1500 public health practitioners from across the country together to attend workshops, plenary sessions, breakout sessions, roundtables, poster presentations, and networking events.

This year, JMC terminology consultants Emily Augustini and Natalie Raketich attended the CSTE Annual Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida to support their respective projects and connect with other epidemiologists and informaticians. Emily and Natalie are both trained epidemiologists who worked at state and local health departments before joining the JMC team. This year’s conference theme was “Let the Sun Shine: Using Data to Weather the Storms” (

Emily attended the Sunday Surveillance and Informatics Workshop at which the co-chairs of the CSTE Data Standardization Workgroup provided an update on the progress they have made since the group’s initiation in March 2018. The Data Standardization Workgroup convenes CSTE members to develop consensus on common definitions for core surveillance data elements to address jurisdictional variation. The group is led by two co-chairs and supported by Emily and Elizabeth Sprouse of Double Lantern Informatics. Every other week the workgroup meets to discuss current usage of common surveillance data elements and how differences in implementation can be addressed and standardized. The workgroup has made incredible progress in developing standard definitions for two data elements, and their efforts were praised by CSTE members at the Sunday workshop!

Natalie and Emily taking time out from the meeting to snap a picture

The conference included a Surveillance and Informatics track, where public health informaticians from state and local health departments and from CDC presented on various electronic data exchange projects including electronic laboratory reporting (ELR), electronic case reporting (eCR), data visualization, and national notifiable disease case notification messaging. Natalie directly supports electronic notification messaging as the main terminologist on the APHL NNDSS Modernization Initiative (NMI) technical assistance team. There were many NMI-related sessions during the conference, including a roundtable session led by CDC to discuss the NMI technical assistance tools and resources. This was especially relevant for Natalie, since those tools and resources are utilized daily by the APHL NMI technical assistance team while working with jurisdictions to implement case notification message mapping guides (MMGs). The conference also provided a wonderful opportunity for Natalie to meet representatives from many of the jurisdictions currently working with the APHL NMI technical assistance team on MMG implementation.
Emily and Natalie enjoyed their time in West Palm Beach meeting epidemiologists and informaticians from across the country, discussing current and emerging data exchange projects, and learning from public health practitioners presenting on various initiatives from their jurisdictions.