Healthcare Visits and Summertime Heat Index in Virginia: An Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Data Collected From 2015–2020


Current syndromic surveillance systems can track changes in heat-related illness (HRI) and overall healthcare utilization in real time to provide situational awareness. Retrospective analyses of emergency department and urgent care visits collected via syndromic surveillance data can be used to assess overall contributions of ambient conditions on healthcare utilization. Using distributed lag nonlinear models, syndromic surveillance data from participating facilities in Virginia were analyzed to determine exposure–response relationships using four different meteorological metrics for assessing heat stress. All-cause healthcare visits start to increase at 26 °C (79 °F) maximum daily heat index, whereas HRI visits start to increase at 30 °C (86 °F), with an estimated 6% of healthcare visits attributable to ambient heat during the summer months in Virginia. Results from this study can be used to develop targeted public health messaging when ambient conditions are expected to increase healthcare visits.


Speaker / Author: 
Suwei Wang, PhD, Virginia Tech
Connor Wu, PhD, Troy University
Erin Austin, MPH, Virginia Department of Health
Meredith Davis, MPH, Virginia Department of Health
Julia Gohlke, PhD, Virginia Tech
Month Year: 
June 2022
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
June 2022