COVID-19 data in the US is an ‘Information Catastrophe’

The order to re-route CDC hospitalization figures raised accuracy concerns. But that’s just one of the problems with the country collects heath data.

Just two weeks before, the Department of Health and Human Services stripped the centres for Disease Control and Prevention of control of national data on COVID-19 infections in hospitalized patients. Instead of sending the data to CDC’s National Health Care Safety Network, the department had ordered the hospitals to send it a new data system. It is run  for the agency by a little-known firm in Tennessee.

This change took immediately and also got affected. First the data collected from the hospitals were vanished from CDC’s site and then it was later re-published. COVID-19 dashboard would no longer be updated.

Trust me, behind the crisis lies a difficult reality. COVID-19 data in the US-in fact all data of public health is chaotic. Can you imagine –not one pipe but a tangle. For not having comprehensive system badly affected the HHS. It is hampering the US  corona virus response.

‘Every health system, every public health department, every jurisdiction really has their own ways of going about things’- Caitlin Rivers. It is apt for US COVID-19 data. It is very difficult to get an accurate and timely and geographically resolved picture of what’s happening in US because there is such a jumble. It is quite notable.

Data systems are really helpful. It can explain a little history.  It can helpful in knowing the demands for beds rising or falling in hospitals, whether re-opening in the region is safe or not. Broadly it assembles a portrait of the safety of hospitals, nursing homes and chronic care institutions  in US and it shares the data with researchers and other medical dashboard.

Now many people are arguing that since the network had already devised channels for receiving all that data from health care centres and systems, it ought to continue to do so-especially since that data  is very difficult to abstract.

There lies the core problem. Despite big efforts back during the OBAMA administration to funnel all US health care data into one large-bore pipeline. What exists here is the lest behind walls of old and wrecked house. COVID-19 hospital admission are being looked after by NHSN but cases that were being received were of emergency. They were being reported to emergency department and being recorded in a separate database.

When the COVID-19, pandemic crisis is over, as everyone is hoping it will be someday. US will still have to wrestle with the questions that been raised till now. Imagine one of the most richest country on the earth, with world’s best health care systems , was content with a health information system that has been left it so uninformed about a disease affecting so many of its citizens. The answer can involve tearing the public-health data system down and building it again from scratch.

US systems are old and are not updated too. They have not invested in them. So this created a deep entrenched problem and led to many unanswered questions.

If you are still trying imagining  a system where you expect that everyone reports the same information in the same way and they can push a button and have all the information they might need and want-this will be the only situation and scenario.

‘This a deeply entrenched problem where no single person did their job’-Rivers. It is true in-fact. The delayed and widespread  detection were the results of this catastrophe.

Stay connected with us for more recent updates regarding COVID-19 issue.

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