Identifying Common, Core Indicators to Monitor HHS-Funded HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment, and Care Services

On June 7th, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) held a consultation in Washington, DC to finalize a set of common, core indicators to monitor outcomes for HHS-funded HIV prevention, treatment, and care services.

As many know first-hand, grantees providing HIV services often receive funding from multiple HHS agencies each of which uses a different data system and different indicators, even when they are measuring the same event—for instance, frequency of HIV testing. “This lack of standardization impedes our ability to assess program efforts across HHS-funded HIV services,” stated Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases. “It also complicates grantee reporting without adding substantial opportunities for system-wide quality improvement.”

Consistent with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s call for a more coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has directed HIV/AIDS leaders across the department to develop and implement core HIV indicators, streamline HIV services data collection, and reduce undue grantee reporting burden on HIV services grantees.

In collaboration with its federal and non-federal partners, OASH had previously identified the following seven indicator domains central to the HIV treatment continuum: HIV testing, late HIV diagnosis, linkage to HIV medical care, retention in HIV medical care, antiretroviral therapy, viral load suppression, and housing status. These domains are consistent with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals and the Institute of Medicine’s 2012 recommendations Exit Disclaimer on HIV indicators and data systems.

At the June 7th meeting, more than 35 federal, state, and community stakeholders (PDF 74KB) provided input on how best to define and operationalize a single indicator for each of the seven domains for use across all HHS-funded HIV programs providing relevant services.  OASH will carefully consider the input it received, finalize its slate of indicators and their specification, and submit them to the HHS Office of the Secretary by July 11, 2012.

The next step in this process will require OASH to turn its attention to the development of agency-specific operational plans to deploy these core indicators, streamline data collection, and reduce undue grantee reporting burden by at least 20-25 percent. Those assembled for the June 7th meeting identified potential strategies for achieving these goals while maintaining accountability and ensuring quality services provision. The next phase of this project is expected to be finalized by October; full deployment all these streamlining activities is anticipated by Fiscal Year 2014.

We welcome your comments and ideas as this work progresses.  We truly believe that by improving our collection of HIV data we can improve our services, which will ultimately result in healthy outcomes for the persons we serve.