The Department of Health and Human Services should better engage and communicate with stakeholders to improve the HHS Protect data system and how it collects hospital capacity data during a public health emergency, according to a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office.

“For example, HHS officials told GAO that there is a need for dialogue and external validation to ensure data quality and accuracy,” GAO said. “They also noted that the need for a system like HHS Protect will continue beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials GAO interviewed from stakeholder organizations and selected states noted that increased collaboration and communication — as well as more time to implement changes — would have facilitated the implementation of the changes to the data collection process. These lessons learned are consistent with GAO's January 2021 recommendation that HHS engage with stakeholders to review and inform the alignment of ongoing data collection and reporting standards through establishing an expert committee. HHS agreed with the recommendation, but as of June 2021, the department has not implemented it.”
 

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