“Meaningful Use” Submissions of Syndromic Surveillance Data

The submission of syndromic surveillance data to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) fulfills one measure of the Promoting Interoperability Public Health and Clinical Data Registry Reporting measure (2018 to present). The Syndromic Surveillance Reporting measure applies to Eligible Hospitals (EH) and to select Eligible Professionals (EP) in Virginia.

Syndromic surveillance is a strategy used by public health to detect emerging issues and monitor the health of people in the community. VDH collects and analyzes health data from participating EHs and EPs to identify emerging trends of public health concern. The data are categorized into syndromes based on the patient’s symptoms and reason for visit (chief complaint) or diagnosis. Analytic tools are then used to rapidly identify unusual patterns in time or space that might indicate situations of concern. For example, in Virginia, syndromic surveillance is used to monitor influenza-like illness, COVID-like Illness, injuries due to drug overdose and firearm injury, illnesses and injuries associated with natural disasters and mass gatherings, and emerging outbreaks and issues of public health concern within the community.

Note: The use of the term “Meaningful Use” on VDH websites refers to the exchange of public health messaging with VDH for all CMS EHR Incentive Programs such as Promoting Interoperability, Meaningful Use, MIPS, or OPPS.


  • VDH is accepting syndromic surveillance submissions from eligible hospitals with emergency departments or from eligible professionals practicing in an urgent care setting. All other types of EPs may claim an exclusion.

Onboarding Process for Syndromic Surveillance Messages

Providers must demonstrate active engagement with Public Health. Providers registered in the VDH Meaningful Use (MU) Registration System will receive acknowledgement of the VDH MU status they have achieved at the end of the reporting period.


Registration: Eligible Hospital (EH) or Eligible Professional (EP) registers intent to submit syndromic surveillance data to VDH for MU.


 Message Structure Validation:  EH or EP generates syndromic surveillance messages with test data for structural evaluation by VDH.
  • Your MU status will remain “Registered” until you complete the validation process.
  • Submit sample messages to VDH by e-mail for structural validation.
  • These messages may use data from a test environment.
  • Incorporate feedback from VDH where necessary to refine message structure to meet Meaningful Use and VDH message requirements.


 Connectivity:  EH or EP sets up transport option with VDH.


 Message Content Validation:  EH or EP submits syndromic surveillance messages to VDH for content validation using selected transport method.
  • Submit test messages to VDH through the selected transport method.
  • These messages must use data from the production environment.
  • Incorporate feedback from VDH where necessary to refine message content to meet Meaningful Use and VDH requirements.


 Production:  EH or EP initiates ongoing syndromic surveillance data transmissions and participates in periodic quality assurance activities.
  • Initiate ongoing production data transmission of syndromic surveillance messages upon approval by VDH. Your MU status will be updated from “Registered” to “In Production.”
  • Incorporate VDH feedback as necessary to ensure quality of data.
  • VDH will provide EH or EP an acknowledgment of ongoing data transmission for reporting period at the completion of this step.


Frequently Asked Questions


What events or conditions should be included in syndromic surveillance data submissions to VDH?

VDH monitors the reason for visit for encounters seen by eligible professionals at the practice-level through syndromic surveillance. No filtering of data by health condition should be done prior to its submission to VDH. Phone calls, scheduling, and prescription refills events should not be sent to VDH.

Where can I find guidance on the required data elements that should be submitted to VDH by eligible professionals for syndromic surveillance?

Guidance documentation that outlines what data elements should be sent can be found in the following specification guide:

VDH Syndromic Surveillance Submission Guide: Emergency Department and Urgent Care Data (September 2019) based on the PHIN Messaging Guide for Syndromic Surveillance: Emergency Department, Urgent Care, Inpatient and Ambulatory Care Settings, release 2.0 (April 2015).

What message types does VDH accept for syndromic surveillance?

VDH accepts ADT (Admit/Discharge/Transfer) message types A01, A04, A03, and A08.

What HL7 version is required by VDH for syndromic surveillance data submissions?

HL7 version 2.5.1 is required for all years of Meaningful Use.

How should syndromic surveillance data be transmitted to VDH?

Please refer to the Transport Options page for more information on the message transport options supported by VDH.

How often should eligible hospitals send syndromic surveillance data to VDH?

Syndromic surveillance data should be submitted to VDH in a timely manner (real – time for HTTPS transport and 1 to 6 hours for SFTP transfer).

How should EHs or EPs register their intent to submit syndromic surveillance data to VDH?

EHs and EPs should register their intent through VDH’s Meaningful Use Registration System. EHs and EPs are required to submit a registration for each attestation year they pursue. Please keep track of the Registration ID provided upon successful registration.

What qualifies as successful active engagement for the syndromic surveillance measure in Meaningful Use?

Active engagement with VDH may be satisfied with any of the following criteria:

  1. Registered: Registration of intent to initiate ongoing submission was made by deadline (within 60 days of the start of the reporting period) and EP is awaiting invitation by VDH to begin testing and validation OR The EP is actively engaged in the process of testing and validation of the electronic submission of data.
  2. In Production: The EP has completed the testing and validation of the electronic submission and is electronically submitting production data to VDH.


FAQ – Eligible Professionals

Is VDH accepting syndromic surveillance data submissions from eligible professionals (EPs)?

Yes, VDH is accepting syndromic surveillance data from   For more information on which EPs may qualify for an exclusion in Virginia please see the Exclusions details above.

What types or specialties of eligible professionals (EPs) should register or submit data to VDH?

VDH is accepting registrations from EPs practicing in an urgent care setting who wish to attest to the syndromic surveillance reporting measure.

Can an EHR vendor representative submit test messages on the behalf of eligible professionals at a practice?

Yes, an EHR vendor representative can submit test messages on behalf of a practice.


FAQ – Eligible Hospitals (EHs) including Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs)

Is VDH accepting syndromic surveillance data submissions from eligible hospitals?

Yes, VDH is accepting syndromic surveillance data submission from eligible hospitals (including critical access hospitals) in all years of Promoting Interoperability.

Does VDH expect to receive updates on each individual encounter to the hospital emergency department?

VDH expects to receive information from the time an encounter is initiated at the emergency department (i.e. registration) to when that encounter ends at the emergency department (i.e. discharge or transfer). Additionally, when final diagnosis information on an encounter has been coded and is available in the patient’s electronic health record it should be sent to VDH as an update.

VDH Contacts:

Syndromic Surveillance:
(804) 864-8141

Meaningful Use:


Page last Modified: 4/28/2023 1:30PM