COVID-19 Hospital Data Is a Hot Mess After Feds Take Control

slack_justyb shares a report from Ars Technica: As COVID-19 hospitalizations in the US approach the highest levels seen in the pandemic so far, national efforts to track patients and hospital resources remain in shambles after the federal government abruptly seized control of data collection earlier this month. Watchdogs and public health experts were immediately aghast by the switch to the HHS database, fearing the data would be manipulated for political reasons or hidden from public view all together. However, the real threat so far has been the administrative chaos. The switch took effect July 15, giving hospitals and states just days to adjust to the new data collection and submission process.

As such, hospitals have been struggling with the new data reporting, which involves reporting more types of data than the CDC’s previous system. Generally, the data includes stats on admissions, discharges, beds and ventilators in use and in reserve, as well as information on patients. For some hospitals, that data has to be harvested from various sources, such as electronic medical records, lab reports, pharmacy data, and administrative sources. Some larger hospital systems have been working to write new scripts to automate new data mining, while others are relying on staff to compile the data manually into excel spreadsheets, which can take multiple hours each day, according to a report by Healthcare IT News. The task has been particularly onerous for small, rural hospitals and hospitals that are already strained by a crush of COVID-19 patients.

“It seems the obvious of going from a system that is well tested, to something new and alien to everyone is happening exactly as everyone who has ever done these kinds of conversions predicted,” adds Slashdot reader slack_justyb.