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HHS releases hospital COVID-19 data at the facility level

Available on HealthData.gov, the data includes geographic patterns, new admission trends, capacity constraints and more.

Mallory Hackett, Associate Editor

The Department of Health and Human Services has recently released hospital COVID-19 data at the facility level, giving a more granular look at the pandemic's impact on the nation's hospitals.

Previously, hospitals' COVID-19 data was aggregated at the state level, which HHS said masked what was happening at each individual facility.

The new data is compiled a week at a time to protect patient privacy while providing a look into how the pandemic is impacting hospitals across the country. It goes back to August 1 and will be updated weekly.

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WHAT'S THE IMPACT

The data is open and available for anyone who wishes to explore it on HealthData.gov, the home of HHS open data.

HHS hopes this will allow researchers, policymakers, academics, data scientists and more to have increased access to COVID-19 insights.

Information that can be viewed in the dataset include: temporal and geographic patterns, new admission trends, the severity of disease, capacity constraints, emergency department impact, insight into trends that can't be found at the county or state view, and patterns in influenza infection rates. 

Because of the complexity of the data, HHS recognizes there could be errors in the datasets. It is encouraging people to analyze the data and share feedback to improve the quality and transparency of the information.

THE LARGER TREND

Hospitals across the country are in the middle of combatting spikes in COVID-19 cases and admissions.

As of December 8, the U.S. has had 14.8 million COVID-19 cases and is averaging more than 196,000 news cases a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID Data Tracker.

Hospital margins have been down consistently since the beginning of the pandemic, and that trend continued in Kaufman Hall's November Flash Report, which examined October performance. In it, margins and volumes fell, revenues flattened and expenses rose as coronavirus numbers continued to climb and states moved to reinstate more rigorous social distancing guidelines.

As a result, provider advocacy organizations like the American Hospital Association continue to ask the federal government for more support.

The strain of COVID-19 is not only being felt by hospitals' bottom lines. A recent survey of frontline healthcare workers found that a majority report being stressed, anxious, frustrated, exhausted, burnt out and overwhelmed.

Twitter: @HackettMallory
Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org