Make collected data accessible: The format of a positive laboratory test result for COVID-19, as well as the necessary associated patient information, should be accessible to both clinical and public health entities in either “near real time” or in aggregate as necessary. Ideally patient data is ultimately shared with the patient’s provider.
Import relevant available health data: A system capable of automatically importing relevant prior contact, demographic, and clinical records would substantially reduce the burden on the contact tracing and medical workforce. Regulatory barriers to accessing this information (e.g., HIPAA Minimum Necessary restriction) can be overcome with a statement from the federal HHS Office of Civil Rights or an assertion from the State.
Make data usable: Investing in the above principles to aggregate and access relevant health information will be wasted if contact tracers and other public health employees aren’t clear on how to access it and then share relevant recommendations with cases and contacts. Ideally, programs have easy-to-use user interfaces for data review and entry, but, alternatively, detailed visual training programs can ensure the workforce is taking advantage of useful data.