Hospitals are being asked to share with HHS and the CDC the COVID-19 testing data from their own labs, breakdowns of COVID-19 cases, hospital bed capacity and ventilators in use.
Vice President Mike Pence made the request in a letter dated March 29, writing that the White House Coronavirus Task Force has been collecting the data from public health labs and private laboratory companies, but lacks data from hospital labs, including academic medical centers, for monitoring efforts.
Hospitals also are being asked to send the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network daily reports on COVID-19 patient impact and hospital capacity. The form asks for numbers of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases in inpatient units or emergency departments, numbers of ventilated patients, ventilators remaining, number of deaths and total ICU beds.
Data about the pandemic in the US has been a persistent problem. Testing and reporting are uneven. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published data on confirmed US cases of COVID-19, but of 74,439 case reports sent to the CDC, only 7,162 had complete information such as age, underlying conditions and risk factors, and hospital status.
Governors, mayors and public health officials have pressed for a more complete picture of the spread of the virus and its impacts on the population and health systems. While hospitals may have been reporting testing results information to their states, Pence said in his letter that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, HHS and the CDC need it as well to inform their work. Local and state health departments will have access to the National Healthcare Safety Network information for their hospitals.
The American Hospital Association had been coordinating a daily survey of hospitals, and the organization reported that the new federal request will replace its own data collection in this area. “We understand the difficulty hospitals are experiencing in complying with multiple data requests—often at the local, state and national level—while also managing the current crisis,” AHA wrote in a statement. “AHA has urged that these efforts be streamlined to ensure hospitals can remain focused on providing critical patient care.”
As HRI has reported, with a more complete data picture, better modeling can be done not only on a national and state level, but also at a ZIP code level to help communities shift resources to hot spots and prepare more coordinated responses.