HHS announces new laboratory data reporting guidance for COVID-19 testing

June 5, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance that specifies what additional data must be reported to HHS by laboratories along with COVID-19 test results. The guidance standardizes reporting to ensure that public health officials have access to comprehensive and nearly real-time data to inform decision making in their response to COVID-19. 

As the country begins to reopen, access to clear and accurate data is essential to communities and leadership for making decisions critical to a phased reopening. The new reporting requirements will provide information needed to better monitor disease incidence and trends by initiating epidemiologic case investigations, assisting with contact tracing, assessing availability and use of testing resources, and anticipating potential supply chain issues. 

“The requirement to include demographic data like race, ethnicity, age, and sex will enable us to ensure that all groups have equitable access to testing, and allow us to accurately determine the burden of infection on vulnerable groups,” said ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health. “With these data we will be able to improve decision-making and better prevent or mitigate further illnesses among Americans.” 

Laboratory data serves not only as important information to support decision-making related to the public health emergency, but also as a critical piece to better understanding the impact on socially vulnerable populations. Laboratory testing data, in conjunction with case reports and other data, also provide vital guidance for mitigation and control activities. 

In addition, Health Information Exchanges can have a valuable role in this process and when possible, all information should be collected using health information technology certified to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) 2015 Edition certification criteria, and all information should be structured in accordance with the US Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) when available or when possible. All data transmission should occur electronically using HL7 electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) implementation guides when possible but a predefined flat file format may also be acceptable. 

CDC has the laboratory reporting guidance.  

CDC has the laboratory reporting FAQ

CDC has the announcement.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.