This article was first published on hhs.gov | Read in Full

On Wednesday, July 15, CDC Director Robert Redfield and HHS Chief Information Officer Jose Arrieta provided an update for members of the media on HHS efforts to gather and disseminate real-time hospital data on COVID-19. Below are their statements as prepared for delivery.

Remarks by CDC Director Robert Redfield

As prepared for delivery

Thank you everyone for joining us today for an update on how we are working to collect, organize, and use real-time data for our fight against COVID-19. We at CDC know that the lifeblood of public health is data. Collecting and disseminating that data as rapidly as possible is our top priority, and the reason for the policy change we’re discussing today.

As many of you know, CDC operates a system called the National Health Safety Network. This is an important surveillance system in our nation’s hospitals, which focuses on fighting antibiotic resistance.

In April, HHS leaders, with input from CDC, created a new system, called HHS Protect, that allows us to combine data through systems like NHSN, as well as other public and private sources. The data reported from hospitals that went into HHS Protect either came through the NHSN, directly to HHS Protect from the states, or through a system called TeleTracking.

What we have now asked is that, going forward, states provide data from hospitals directly through the TeleTracking system or directly to the HHS Protect system.

First, this reduces the reporting burden—it reduces confusion and duplication of reporting. Streamlining reporting enables us to distribute scarce resources using the best possible data.

TeleTracking also provides rapid ways to update the type of data we are collecting—such as adding, for instance, input fields on what kind of treatments are being used. In order to meet this need for flexible data gathering, CDC agreed that we needed to remove NHSN from the collection process, in order to streamline reporting.

This streamlining will allow the NHSN to increase its focus on another critical area for COVID-19, the nursing home and long-term care facility reporting needs—which, as we know, is also an absolutely central element of our pandemic response. All elements of our public health system are being stretched right now, and streamlining the hospital reporting system allows NHSN to concentrate its COVID-19 activity on the high-priority area of protecting the vulnerable in nursing homes.

To accomplish this, we have not changed the data ecosystem; we have merely streamlined the data collection mechanism for hospitals on the frontlines.

On the back end, whether collected by the CDC’s system, the third party vendor, or the states, the data ends up aggregated in the HHS Protect platform, where the CDC team and other federal response teams still have access to this information for their use in the response. Additionally, state and local public health departments also have access to this information in HHS Protect which allows them to access and use the same information that the federal response teams are using.

No one is taking access or data away from CDC.

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