Delays in State Data Reporting Due to COVID-19

Delays in State Data Reporting Due to COVID-19

Where and Why We’re Experiencing Data Interruptions 

By Mike McDonald, Lee Ann Lambdin, and Hank Neuhoff

Our team is currently encountering delays in data reporting. The reasons for these delays are mixed, but they all seem to tie back in some way to COVID-19. In this post, we’ll discuss a few of the hold-ups we’ve encountered and what we’re learning about why states are struggling to deliver 2020 data on time. 

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Why We’re Experiencing Data Interruptions

While we can imagine a number of reasons why COVID-19 would trigger data delays, below are a few specific reasons we’ve encountered.

  1. Surging hospitalizations are putting a strain on healthcare resources. Hospitals in some states are overwhelmed by COVID patients and reaching their capacity to deliver care. As a result, they’re dedicating all of their resources to managing the virus. Hospital teams that would normally be focused on collecting and processing data have been redirected to oversee some aspect of virus management. 
  2. The extra step of adding a COVID data field is slowing things down. At Stratasan, we process a lot of healthcare data. So we’re intimately aware of how the seemingly innocuous addition of a COVID code can cause a meaningful delay. But even if it causes a setback, adding this new field is a critical and necessary step that will allow us all to more accurately track, share, and compare hospital information.
  3. Remote work can lead to process delays. Many of us who handle the business side of healthcare and who aren’t needed for in-person patient care are working from home. This new work arrangement can have unintended consequences for a business, including logistical hiccups and process delays. It helps for all parties involved to be on alert for issues, making an effort to over-communicate and ensure messages are received.

Where We’re Experiencing Data Interruptions

At this point, you may be wondering what kinds of delays we’re talking about; just how behind is 2020 data going to be? Here are a few examples of the kinds of setbacks we’re seeing.

  • Oklahoma releases data annually. Their 2019 data would normally be released in late November or early December. At this time, there’s no indication of when their data will be ready.
  • Pennsylvania expected their data to be released in October like in past years, but the data was instead released this month.
  • Kentucky’s Q1 2020 data was available in August, instead of their standard July release. Q2 2020 data would normally have been available in October, but it has not yet been released. 
  • Florida’s Q2 2020 data due date was November 30, but it’s not yet ready for release.

While we don’t detail here a complete list of states delivering data behind schedule, know that our team is available to discuss specific questions you may have. We’ll share what we know and research what we can to help you anticipate and prepare for these delays.

When Past Issues Become Current Norms

When our team QA’s data, we look for issues. As we’ve QA’d Q1 and Q2 2020 data, not surprisingly, there’s been a marked decrease in cases, both inpatient and outpatient. At any point in the past, we would have flagged these volume decrease as issues with the data, but that’s not the case this year. These volume decreases are due to COVID-19, not because the data is lacking material. These volume decreases aren’t as surprising though as the delays in data delivery, as it was well-publicized that hospital visits were down in the first two quarters of this year. 

The Takeaway

As we all attempt to work through the full impact of this pandemic, more issues like these data delays will arise. We’re striving to stay on top of every issue we can and to adapt and adjust our plans accordingly. Check back to this post, or follow our social media accounts for updates on incoming state data. You can find Stratasan on LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Remember too that Stratasan's All-Payer Claims Data (APCD) updates monthly. While state data and APCD each have unique strengths, APCD is a valuable resource that can help you better understand the continuum of care in your market including referrals and patient leakage. It can be a helpful option to fill the gaps that result from state data delays. Please reach out and schedule a time to talk if you have questions or want to learn more about what our APCD has to offer.

Article by Mike McDonald, Data Engineer, Lee Ann Lambdin, SVP Healthcare Strategy, and Hank Neuhoff, Director of Strategic Advisory Services for Stratasan

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