The Betsy Lehman Center: How can data drive improvement in the safety of our health care system as provider organizations respond to the shifting demands of COVID-19?
Ray Campbell: COVID-19 has put tremendous stress on our health care system and has highlighted the critical importance of data for understanding and responding to major events such as a pandemic. While much good work has been done under pressure, we are relearning the fundamental truth that good data is a shared responsibility. There are many public and private organizations — state agencies, local boards of health, hospitals, medical groups, labs, clinics, employers, universities, etc. — generating and consuming data about tests, cases, hospitalizations and more. The supply chain of relevant data is long and complicated, and everyone depends on the work of other organizations to get good information.
Already, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the state to collect more data, collect it faster and share data more widely between agencies. In some cases, data that used to be collected annually are now being collected monthly, weekly or even daily. Agencies are using these richer data resources to measure and monitor the healthcare system more closely than ever before and to conduct statistical analyses of factors driving COVID-19 infections and deaths. Soon we will be able to use these improved capabilities to address issues of patient safety, many of which are complex, systemic problems that require more and better data for improvement.
Ray Campbell is Executive Director of the state’s health care data agency, the Center for Health Information and Analysis.