HHS makes significant changes to COVID-19 reporting process

The Department of Health and Human services has announced major changes for COVID-19 data reporting requirements and processes. The new reporting requirements specifically apply to critical access hospitals, children’s hospitals, general hospitals (including acute, trauma, and teaching hospitals), long term acute care hospitals, military hospitals, oncology hospitals, orthopedic hospitals, pediatric long term acute care hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, surgical hospitals, Veterans Administration hospitals, women’s hospitals, and women’s and children’s hospitals. 

The reporting requirements do contain patient flows, but there are still unknown aspects to the new COVID-19 reporting requirements regarding individual-level data and certain privacy considerations.

Here is what is known so far. 

Reporting Process changes 

As of July 15, hospitals will not submit daily COVID-19 related data to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network NHSN, which had a specific COVID-19 reporting section. 

Instead, hospitals will send daily reports to one of four places: 

  1. Health care providers can send data daily to HHS’s TeleTracking, also known as the “HHS Protect” database, https://teletracking.protect.hhs.gov. (Again, this is a major change from sending data to the CDC NHSN.)
  2. Providers can report to the state’s health department, if the state has taken responsibility for federal public health reporting for COVID-19. 
  3. Health care providers can authorize health vendors and other third parties to share information directly with HHS. This method will require approval by HHS regional administrators. 
  4. Providers can also publish the data in an acceptable standardized format to a hospital website. This would require approval from HHS regional administrators. (By way of example, schema.org facilitates “markup” of microdata and allows for data standardization. See https://schema.org/TripleBlindedTrial as an example for triple blind trial schemas microdata markup.

Expansion of data reported 

HHS has also made changes to the data that health care providers must report, expanding the data collection. This includes new information requests for disaggregated information about adult and pediatric patients, to name a few of the changes. HHS sent registered users of the TeleTrack HHS Protect database a list of data fields to prioritize: 

  • Previous day’s new adult admissions for confirmed COVID-19
  • Previous day’s new adult admissions for suspected COVID-19
  • Total adults hospitalized for COVID – suspected and confirmed
  • Total hospitalized for COVID – confirmed only
  • Total adults in ICU with COVID – suspected and confirmed
  • Total adults in ICU with COVID – confirmed
  • Remdesivir doses (field will be available by July 15)

The American Hospital Association has a sample of the email here.

The full HHS data reporting guidance is available here.

WPF will update this post as more information becomes available about the new reporting system and what privacy, accountabilty, security, and other controls are in place for the system. We will report on privacy impacts, and official Privacy Impact Assessments and systems of records notices from HHS as they become available. 

Key Documents: 

COVID-19 Guidance for Hospital Reporting and FAQs For Hospitals, Hospital Laboratory, and Acute Care Facility Data Reporting (Updated July 10, 2020, PDF) 

Additional information: 

HHS TeleTrack database information: https://teletracking.protect.hhs.gov