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Telephone triage: a timely data source for surveillance of influenza-like diseases.

Abstract

We evaluated telephone triage (TT) data for public health early warning systems. TT data is electronically available and contains coded elements that include the demographics and description of a caller's medical complaints. In the study, we obtained emergency room TT data and after hours TT data from a commercial TT software and service company. We compared the timeliness of the TT data with influenza surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control using the cross correlation function. Emergency room TT calls are one to five weeks ahead of surveillance data collected by the CDC.

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