The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released new hospital COVID-19 capacity data at the facility level. Previously released data about hospital capacity was aggregated at the state level.
This new, more granular, data release aggregates daily hospital reports into a “week-at-a-time” picture to protect patient privacy while providing a view of how COVID-19 is impacting hospitals and local communities across the country.
Greater insights into local COVID-19 response efforts
With this data release, how hospitals are impacted by COVID-19 will be shown on a per-hospital basis, allowing researchers, policymakers and others to have greater insights into local COVID-19 response efforts. This time-series data will update weekly, going back to August 1, 2020.
When data are aggregated at the county or state level, the average across all facilities can mask what is happening at each local hospital. Some hospitals might have additional capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, while others lack that capacity, for example.
Using this new data, the public will have access to hospital-specific COVID-19 numbers to understand hyper-local community impacts. This new level of transparency and increased access will accelerate COVID-19 insights and understanding, HHS said.
A gateway to open data
HHS will not be a gatekeeper of the data, but will serve as a gateway to the COVID-19 open data. The public will be able to find more COVID-19 information on HealthData.gov, the home of HHS open data.
These COVID-19 datasets are also discoverable and downloadable on Data.gov, the home of U.S. government data with a federated, harvest model that pulls information from HealthData.gov.
HHS notes that academics, data scientists and others can explore an array of trends at the facility, county, metropolitan and regional level, such as:
- Temporal changes and patterns.
- Geographic changes and patterns.
- New admission trends, including age brackets.
- Severity of disease, such as patients in ICU or on ventilators.
- Capacity constraints, including the relative impact of COVID-19 patients on the facility.
- Impact to the emergency department.
- Trends and impacts at the individual facility level that are not recognizable in county or state views.
- Patterns in influenza and coinfections of influenza and COVID-19.
The hope is that the new datasets will help local and regional resource planning efforts, according to the agency, such as collaborations between different hospitals regarding staff and equipment.
They will empower local minority, racial and ethnic communities with information relevant to them, according to HHS, which notes that quantifying regional impacts can help combat misinformation about the severity and seriousness of the pandemic within communities.
The goal is also for entrepreneurs and researchers to use the datasets for new analytics tools that can detect, predict and visualize patterns – to show what’s working and what’s not, and help organizations scale local best practices for other regions.