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HHS renews contract with TeleTracking

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"We have proven we can systematically improve compliance and enable hospitals around the country to report on their COVID-19 data," said TeleTracking President Christopher Johnson.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has renewed the contract with TeleTracking to continue collecting COVID-19 patient data from hospitals, according to reporting from NPR.  

On Friday, NPR reported that HHS awarded a second six-month, $10.2 million contract to TeleTracking, a Pittsburgh-based data firm.

"Over the course of our contract with Health and Human Services, we have proven that we can systematically improve compliance and enable hospitals around the country to report on their COVID-19 data quickly, consistently and transparently," TeleTracking President Christopher Johnson told Healthcare IT News.  

Johnson pointed to TeleTracking's decades-long analytics experience, and said that the company "has empowered the world’s largest healthcare systems with actionable and meaningful data to make better, faster decisions about patient access and patient care.  

"Overall, we hope to help the healthcare system reduce waste and improve efficiency," he added. "Many pundits point to pricing reform or new coverage policy as ways to eliminate waste in the system. At TeleTracking, we believe that investing in the improvement of healthcare operations is the most effective, expedient and bi-partisan way forward."  

WHY IT MATTERS  

The government's contract with TeleTracking has been the source of lingering questions from elected officials and federal agencies.    This summer, HHS' directive to hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and enter COVID-19 patient data directly into its TeleTracking portal sparked alarm among stakeholders and medical groups, who feared it meant that the information would be politicized. 

A few weeks prior, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, wrote an open letter claiming that TeleTracking had been issued a noncompetitive contract. HHS has denied this claim, but NPR reports that key officials inside HHS Secretary Alex Azar's office "fast-tracked" the contract.

Hospitals also described "chaos" as they struggled to pivot to the new system, some with only a few days' notice. Some specifically noted the new required data fields as a marked increase from the systems they'd been previously using. As NPR reports, the Federal Register is seeking comments on behalf of HHS about the burden imposed on hospitals by the new reporting requirements.    

A month after the new requirements went into effect, many hospital associations – including those that had reported initial difficulties – said they'd settled into the new routine, although some still faced hurdles.   

With regard to the required fields, Johnson said, "We have … proven to be adaptable, enabling the authorities to add data fields quickly, as needed."   

"These improvements have, overall, led to more informed decision making by the authorities," Johnson added.


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