HHS wants hospitals to report vaccination rates alongside inpatient data

A senior official said that the information is intended to provide a snapshot of the status of U.S. healthcare facilities as COVID-19 vaccine rollouts continue.
By Kat Jercich
03:06 PM
Secretary Alex Azar behind a mask

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week began asking hospitals to report COVID-19 vaccine administration rates in addition to existing requirements around sending patient data to the agency.

The seven new fields are optional, explained a senior HHS official to Healthcare IT News, and intended to provide a snapshot of the vaccination status of healthcare facilities.

WHY IT MATTERS

As with other COVID-19 data, hospitals are being asked to report the information through the TeleTracking system. States can also upload the information on hospitals' behalf – and, in fact, 30 states are doing so. 

Unlike other data points, which are mandatory to report and tied to hospitals' participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs, the new information is optional at this time. It is also required on a weekly basis, rather than daily.

HHS is asking hospitals to report:  

  • The number of COVID-19 vaccination doses administered in the previous week.
  • The number of healthcare personnel who have not yet received a vaccine, who have received one dose and who have received a completed vaccination series.
  • The total number of current healthcare personnel at a facility.
  • The previous week's number of patients who were administered the first dose in a COVID-19 vaccination series.
  • The previous week's number of patients administered the dose completing the series.

The senior HHS official said that, unlike state immunization registries, which are also reporting vaccination data to the government, the new information will help federal agencies understand the status of hospitals and the safety of workers.   

For example, if cases are rising in a region, but 90% of staff members are vaccinated, there may not be as much concern as at a facility where only 20% are vaccinated.  

HHS also intends to look at this from an equity perspective – for instance, examining whether rural hospitals have equivalent vaccine uptake to urban or large systems.  

Also of note in the latest HHS guidance are the new required fields: As of January 8, hospitals will now be mandated to enter the number of monoclonal antibody courses currently in inventory and used in the previous calendar week. HHS recently added an antibody therapeutics locator to its HHS Protect portal.   

 

“We are honored to expand our ongoing partnership with the federal government to track COVID-19 vaccinations among the hospital patients and employee populations," Chris Johnson, co-CEO of TeleTracking, told Healthcare IT News.

"We are grateful to play a role in this national effort and remain steadfast in our commitment to transforming healthcare operations and improving patient care," Johnson added.

Hospital associations told Healthcare IT News that the new fields' optional status means health systems are in different phases of reporting and collecting the data.  

"We have some hospitals/health systems (most likely are larger health systems that have a more robust data collection platform already) that are working on adding this information. Others are working on identifying their process for tracking that information, and then will add it to their weekly reporting in the near future," said a spokesperson for the Colorado Hospital Association.  

"We are not hearing major pushback or concerns at this point," they added.  

THE LARGER TREND  

HHS Protect was launched last year, when HHS directed hospitals to bypass the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when reporting COVID-19 patient data.   

Although many facilities struggled to meet requirements with only days' notice – particularly amidst the strain of the pandemic – nearly every state now displays on the HHS Protect hub as showing a 100% reporting rates.   

ON THE RECORD

"The following data elements will greatly assist the federal COVID-19 response in tracking the movement of the virus, identifying potential strains in the healthcare delivery system, and informing distribution of supplies," reads the HHS guidance to hospitals updated on Tuesday.
 

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.

Twitter: @kjercich
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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