Federal data updates, Dec. 13

Rounding out the week with a couple of updates on federal data, unrelated to hospitalizations and vaccines.

  • New app for testing data: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have developed an app called SimpleReport, which allows COVID-19 test providers to quickly report data to their local public health departments. An assisted living center in Tucson, Arizona was the first to pilot the app this week. The center’s Community Director said this app helped her quickly file data that would otherwise need to be entered in three different places.
  • CMS proposes that providers build standard databases: This past Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new rule to streamline data sharing between the agency and individual healthcare providers. Under this rule, providers would need to build application programming interfaces, or APIs. APIs are essentially data-sharing systems that provide a standardized format for information. Such standardization, CMS claims, would make it easier for patients to get medical treatments and prescriptions authorized by Medicaid.
  • Bill to make federal court filings free passes the House: PACER, or Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is an antiquated federal database of court filings which journalists and other researchers must pay to use. It costs 10 cents a page to access court dockets and other documents through PACER—and since court documents can get long, that cost adds up. The Open Courts Act, a bill which would make PACER free to the public, passed in the House of Representatives this past week. It now heads to the Senate. This bill may not be directly COVID-related right now, but I anticipate that journalists will be covering COVID-19 lawsuits for years after the pandemic ends.

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