HHS tied billions in COVID-19 aid to reporting data through TeleTracking: 7 details

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HHS linked COVID-19 funding for hospitals to reporting their data through the TeleTracking Technologies portal, according to the New York Times.

Seven things to know:

1. HHS Secretary Alex Azar sent an email on April 21 to hospitals requiring them to make a one-time report of COVID-19 admissions and ICU beds to HHS before the agency would allocate $100 billion in CARES Act funds. The email was targeted to hospitals in COVID-19 hot spots and read: "Please be aware that submitting this data will inform the decision-making on targeted relief fund payments and is a prerequisite to payment."

2. HHS signed a five-month, $10.2 million contract with TeleTracking on April 10 to power the agency's data-collection efforts. In July, HHS mandated hospitals and local public health officials report COVID-19 data through the TeleTracking portal directly to HHS instead of the CDC, as hospitals had been doing.

3. The initial one-time reports sent to HHS in April included data that wasn't collected anywhere else, according to the report, and TeleTracking was brought on to standardize the real-time data tracking system.

4. After receiving the government contract, TeleTracking added 100 staff to respond to call center requests for tech support and ease long wait times, according to a special bulletin from the American Hospital Association issued on April 23.

5. The federal government then tied reporting to HHS through the TeleTracking system to obtaining the COVID-19 treatment remdesivir in June. But the HHS data reporting system rained underused until the Trump administration instructed hospitals to stop reporting to the CDC in July and instead report COVID-19 data to HHS.

6. More than 90 percent of hospitals are reporting data to the CDC, according to the report. CDC officials have decided not to analyze and publish some of the TeleTracking data because they cannot confirm the quality and accuracy of it, according to the report.

7. The CDC is collaborating with United States Digital Services to develop automated data flow processes that would send information data to HHS.

More articles on data analytics:
HHS says COVID-19 data reporting system won't go back to CDC
Lab delay leads to 2nd week of incorrect COVID-19 data reporting in North Carolina
'We have no idea what's going on, really': Iowa COVID-19 system glitch wrongly lowered confirmed case rate



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