Essence is the United States Department of Defense's Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics. Essence's goal is to monitor health data as it becomes available and discover epidemics and similar health concerns before they move out of control. It was created and developed in 1999 by Dr. Michael Lewis, MD, MPH, when he was a resident in the Preventive Medicine residency training program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland. Originally designed for early detection of bioterrorism attacks in the Washington, DC, area, following the attacks of 9/11/2001, the U.S. Army Surgeon General, LTG James Peake, MD, ordered Jay Mansfield, the information technology specialist responsible for the IT development of ESSENCE, to expand ESSENCE to look globally at the entire DoD military Healthcare System as it was originally designed. Subsequently, ESSENCE has been adopted and adapted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins University, and numerous health departments around the United States and other countries. The International Society of Disease Surveillance was formed following a May 2000 meeting to present Dr. Lewis' work to surveillance leaders from around the world. ISDS will hold its 12th annual meeting in December 2013.
^Lewis M, Pavlin J, Mansfield J, O'Brien S, Boomsma L, Elbert Y, Kelley P: Disease outbreak detection system using syndromic data in the greater Washington DC area.American journal of preventive medicine 2002, 23(3):180-186.