The "Réseau Sentinelles" or Sentinelles Network (a.k.a. French Communicable Diseases Computer Network) is a network of 1 260 volunteer “médecins généralistes”, or general practitioners, working throughout the metropolitan regions of France (2% of the total general practitioners in these regions). Its goal is to provide clinical surveillance in France for 14 health indicators. Each member doctor is known as a “médecin Sentinelles” (or “Sentinelles doctor”). This network, created in November 1984 by Professor Alain-Jacques Valleron, is regulated under the auspices of the mixed research unit U707 of Inserm and University of Paris VI: Pierre et Marie Curie.
This national system of clinical surveillance collects real-time epidemiological data, originating from the participating general practitioners, to be used in analysis, forecasting and redistribution. It is also a part of the surveillance warning system directed by the Institut de veille sanitaire (InVS) (receiving the CNIL’s favorable recommendation n°471 393).
The 14 health indicators surveyed comprise of 11 infectious diseases:
as well as 3 non infectious diseases:
The surveillance system detects, alerts, and predicts future regional and national epidemics specifically for influenza, gastroenteritis and Varicella zoster. The patient de-identified data is obtained via Internet by the Sentinelles doctors and directly streamed into a Geographic information system (GIS) database. A weekly report, called Sentiweb-Hebdo, is edited every Tuesday on the home webpage of the Sentinelle Network and is emailed to more than 4000 subscibers, including members of the national media. An annual report of the number of cases reported is also edited using the surveillance data. These reports are available for online viewing, and can be accessed on the Sentinelles home webpage in the section titled "documentation/bilans annuels" (or “annual reports and totals”).
The data provided by the Sentinelles Network had provided research in the following domains:
Epidemiological inquiries are regularly performed among the Sentinelles doctors. Their purpose is to maintain the ethical conduct of epidemiological research developed by the “Association des épidémiogistes de langue française”, or the Association of Epidemiologists of the French Language. The order of each inquiry is prespecified in a written protocol. The inquiries are then summarized in a final report and submitted per protocol to the internal auditors to assure their quality. All reports thus far have received a favorable recommendation by the CNIL (n°471 393). The results of these inquiries are available online and can be accessed via the Sentinelle home webpage in the section "documentation/enquêtes ponctuelles" (or “regular inquiry documentation”).