Item Coversheet


Meeting Date: 4/18/2017

Item Creation Date:

HHD - Johns Hopkins University Syndromic Surveillance System (Essence)

Agenda Item#: 22.


ORDINANCE approving and authorizing Software License Agreement for Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics between the City and THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY LLC; providing a maximum contract amount - $95,000.00 - Grant Fund


SPECIFIC EXPLANATION:  The Houston Health Department (HHD) requests City Council approval of an ordinance approving and authorizing a software license agreement and addendum for statement of work between the City and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory LLC (“JH/APL) for ESSENCE.  This is a royalty-free license with automatic renewals of successive ten year periods, and can be terminated by either party for any reason upon 60 days advance written notice.  JH/APL will provide the installation of ESSENCE Syndromic Surveillance Platform for HHD for an one-time cost not to exceed $95,000.00, to be paid during FY17.


HHD is rebuilding and expanding its existing syndromic surveillance network using ESSENCE software developed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (JH/APL). Syndromic surveillance is the monitoring of health care provider admissions data for trends in symptoms or syndromes that could give early warning of biological or chemical terrorist attack. By contracting for services with JH/APL and using this software, HHD will accomplish three (3) critical objectives:

  1. Alignment with the other syndromic surveillance programs in Texas. HHD and Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) are working with Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to develop a statewide syndromic surveillance network. All three agencies (HHD, TCPH, and DSHS) will be using ESSENCE to deliver syndromic surveillance information to local health departments across the state.


  2. Alignment with US federal guidelines regarding Meaningful Use and Health Level 7 (HL-7) ADT messaging standards. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has established Meaningful Use (MU) standards for U.S. health care providers regarding the retention and transmission of health data


  3. Enhanced Biosecurity for the Gulf Coast Region. HHD has provided syndromic surveillance capabilities for the City of Houston since 2003. The capacity of syndromic surveillance to detect bioterror activity before clinician diagnoses or laboratory testing is accomplished through the real time receipt, hourly analysis, and automated reporting of indicator data, the type of which precedes routine hospital laboratory or clinical diagnosis. These data types include emergency room admissions chief complaint data, school absenteeism data or over the counter medication sales.


    A purchase order was previously issued for this item on 11/22/17 however, the vendor determined that a purchase order was not an acceptable form of obligation and requested the approval of the referenced contract and addendum.

Prior Council Action:
11/22/16; Motion 2016-0550
Amount of Funding:

Total Contract Amount - $95,000

Federal Fund – Fund 5000                                        
Contact Information:

Kathy Barton - Telephone: 832-393-5045

                        Celluar: 713-826-5801

RCASigned Cover sheet