Faber’s office said one of the limitations of the audit was that they were unable to conduct major portions of our data analysis based on ODH’s interpretation of federal health data privacy laws.
Stephanie McCloud, director of the Ohio Department of Health, in a letter of response to the audit generally agreed and thanked the auditor’s office for their work. however, she said her department disagrees with the auditor’s statements on data limitations, saying they provided auditors full access to the Ohio Disease Reporting System database and it reasonably appeared to ODH senior leadership “that your team was pleased with the cooperation and access they were given.“
“Finally, despite perceived limitations on data access, your team identified very few potential duplicate entries (.2%) and potential misclassifications of confirmed or probable cases (.12%) in the data set,” McCloud said.
The auditor’s office had established a hotline for Ohioans to report inaccurate test results, inaccurate communication from departments of health, and miscoding of hospitalizations and deaths and received 15 complete responses. In many cases, these were found to be the result of clerical errors. Ohio Department of Health gave explanations for 11 of the 15 hotline reports.
Among audit findings and recommendations, the analysis stated that Ohio’s COVID-19 dashboard created by ODH, while informative, can be confusing and overwhelming for non-medical professionals, though Faber also said ODH “continues to adapt their public communications to public demands, and the data presented to Ohioans is largely accurate.” They recommended improvements in how data is presented to the public.
Auditors recommended Ohio Department of Health should review the guidance from NIHS, CDC and WHO, as well as the death reporting methods of other states and determine what, if any, changes should be made to the method currently used to count COVID-19 deaths and display them on the Dashboard
Auditors reported the existing 20-year-old system used by ODH to track and monitor infectious diseases is outdated and recommended the urgent implementation of a new system.