To better protect communities, lawmakers urge health agencies to utilize more technologically advanced systems to increase accuracy and efficiency in tracking coronavirus infections and potential infectious disease outbreaks
Washington, D.C. — As communities across the country grapple with how to reopen as safely as possible, U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined a bipartisan group of Senators in calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve, automate, and modernize COVID-19 data collection and management. In a lettersent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, the lawmakers called on the agencies to harness technologically advanced systems and build on existing data sources in order to provide public health officials and community leaders with more accurate, real-time information as they make critical decisions about reopening.
“During an emergency such as the current pandemic, scaling up and using existing systems to the greatest extent possible can improve data collection and contact tracing efforts,” the Senators wrote. “We therefore ask that you and your colleagues utilize and build on existing data sources, such as electronic health record (EHR) and laboratory information management systems (LIMS), claims databases, and other automated systems to provide government leaders, public health officials, community leaders, and others with actionable, easy-to-interpret data from a wide-ranging set of sources.”
“Fortunately, software-based systems providing data management for state public health entities and major testing laboratories already exist, and they are more efficient and accurate while reducing the burden of excess paperwork,” the Senators continued. “By managing the patient and order requisition information electronically, lab processing time is reduced and transcription errors are eliminated.”
The lawmakers emphasized that the data generated by contact tracing, syndromic surveillance, and large-scale testing can help inform decisions on how to safely reopen communities and bring economies back online. They stated that modernizing and automating data collection should augment detection, testing, and contact tracing plans, while also helping to prevent and improve the management of new outbreaks.
In addition to Senator Collins, the letter was signed by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tina Smith (D-MN), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA).
Click HERE to read the full letter.