A new set of dashboards released by the Missouri Hospital Association are designed to help decision-makers throughout the state understand the progression of COVID-19 in their region. The reporting builds on data submitted by hospitals since February and the daily MHA dashboard produced since mid-March. The new weekly dashboards are designed to help government leaders, local public health officials, health care organizations and businesses understand the influence of COVID-19 on their communities, and make informed decisions when protecting citizens, customers, employees and patients.
“Access to the data driving our COVID-19 response is an essential pillar of the Show-Me Strong Recovery Plan,” Governor Mike Parson said. “These new data will increase all Missourians’ situational awareness while providing local leaders with the tools they need to protect members of their community. Our goal is to increase the confidence of public health organizations, businesses, churches and many other organizations as they make ongoing response and reopening decisions throughout the recovery process.”
The dashboards include components that were available in early reports, along with new information — including leading indicators of COVID-19 spread — that can provide a stronger sense of the direction of the state’s COVID-19 trajectory. These additions include epidemiological indicators, including the reproductive rate of the virus, that provide a target for public health interventions like local and regional testing expansion, and local orders that can reduce spread.
“This transition reflects the move to expand data from an operational tool with near real-time situational awareness, to a mixed operational- and trend-based format to inform decisions,” said Jackie Gatz, MHA Vice President of Safety and Preparedness. “COVID-19 will be in our communities in the long term, and this tool recognizes the need to shift toward a long-term view of resource and disease management.”
The dashboards will be released weekly on Wednesdays and include data on seven regions statewide. The tool was developed as a partnership between the Parson administration, Missouri’s hospitals and researchers from the Washington University Institute for Public Health.
“As Missouri’s businesses reopen, organizations of all sizes are taking into consideration the safety of employees and customers,” said Dan Mehan, President and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Better data will help businesses understand the environment locally, and put risk-based systems and appropriate precautions in place.”
Many of the protections in place since March were designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the chance that Missouri’s health care system would be overwhelmed. The availability of hospital intensive care beds, ventilators and various types of personal protective equipment was the primary consideration. These elements have and will continue to be reported as components of the regional dashboards. However, the new dashboards will identify both a statewide and regional view of these elements.
With support of analysts at MHA and Washington University, the new data are further informed by trend-based leading indicators of viral spread. These components can help stakeholders develop a forward-looking view of their environment by tracking viral reproductive rates and prevalence, reopening-related trends using Google’s mobility index, and regional testing targets and positive rates.
“Hospitals are committed to our partnership with the state and federal governments to deliver the data,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “These are important new additions to our information gathering and reporting system that will create a better understanding of the virus — thus helping us improve care and above all else, save lives.
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“Maintaining hospitals’ capacity to provide COVID-19-related care is essential to Missouri’s progress toward recovery. This requires reviewing virus data and hospitals’ capacity levels side by side, with a focus on leading indicators.”