The National Retailer Data Monitor ^^

The National Retail Data Monitor (NRDM) is a public health surveillance tool that collects and analyzes daily over-the-counter point of sale data to rapidly identity disease outbreaks, either natural or as a result of bioterrorism. It was built by the Realtime Outbreak and Disease Surveillance (RODS) Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh in collaboration with the food and drug retail industry and state and local health departments. Began in 2002 with seed funding by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the NRDM has grown into a national priority. Funding also is provided by the Department of Homeland Security, Alfred P Sloan Foundation, Passaic Water Commission of New Jersey, and a consortium of states.

As of August 2005, there are 13 major food, drug and mass merchandise chains representing over 20,000 stores that are participating across the nation and over 675 system users in health departments across 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico who have accounts to review daily aggregate data in maps and graphs. Access to the system is free to public health officials through a secure web-based user interface.

The immediate project goals are:

• to increase the market share coverage to 70% nationally

• see that data are reviewed by public health on a daiiy basis

• report case studies of outbreaks to public health

• create a sustainable organizational model

Current Coverage by County The role of the retail industry

Industry participation involves contributing point-of-sale data to the NRDM for public health surveillance. The system looks at sales of over-the-counter (OTC) healthcare products and analyzes them for anomalies indicative of a disease outbreak whether naturally occurring or as a result of a bioterrorist attack. Many of the nation's top retailer's are providing POS data, which are transmitted via a secure FTP link with a delay of less than a few hours from point-of-sale. Once received, the data are merged to show total sales for a given geography and to de-identify the specific retailer. The output is available to public health officials via a secure extranet which displays time series charts and maps for public health surveillance.

A national effort

Cities, counties and states across the country are working with urgency to deploy methods to Identify a disease outbreak that would result from a bioterrorism attack. The National Retail Data Monitor is the first attempt to centralize collection and distribution across the nation and thus eliminate the need for retailers to work with multiple public health departments across the country.

Hospital admissions peak Feb 4

The significance of retail OTC data

Sales of OTC healthcare products are of great interest tc early-warning bioterrorism surveillance. When people get sick, they often purchase OTC products prior to visiting a health care provider. By analyzing many years of market data across many cities and states, scientists have been able to correlate certain disease outbreaks with significant OTC sales increases. In some cases it Is possible to identify an outbreak up to two weeks earlier with OTC sales than by monitoring clinical data.


The NRDM does not collect any personally identifiable Information. The system simply looks for abnormal spikes in unit sales and is interested in how many aggregated products sell across a zip code or larger geography, not what individual people buy or what an individual retailer sells These data are similarto what retailers routinely evaluate and share with trading partners and syndicated analysts such as IRl and ACNielsen. No retailer names are identified to public health officials readme the screens, and there is no breakdown of sales numbers by retailer.

Hospital admissions peak Feb 4

Real-time Outbreak and Disease Surveillance (RODS) Laboratory • University of Pittsbrtr^h Suite .550 ■ ! 00 Technology Drive* Pittsburgh PA 15219 «USA Tel; 412-3S3-S126* Fax: 4] 2-383-S135 • http V.'rods.hea 1th.pitt.edu/

figure 34.1 National Retail Data Monitor fact sheet (August 2005).

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