Concerns Regarding the Trump Administrations Contract with TeleTracking Technologies
Authored by Ayesha Rajan, Research Analyst at Altheia Predictive Health
A few weeks ago, when the Trump Administration took Covid-19 reporting responsibilities away from the CDC, there were several questions about how data would be processed and whether or not the public could trust the accuracy of new data. Not long after that development, the Trump Administration awarded a company called TeleTracking Technologies a multi-million dollar contract to collect and report on Covid-19 data. However, inconsistencies in reporting and a lack of transparency in collection methods has raised a lot of questions regarding teletracking as a process and TeleTracking Technologies as a company.
One of the biggest causes for concern of TeleTracking Technologies is that they have refused to answer questions regarding Coronavirus data from United States senators due to a nondisclosure agreement with the Trump Administration. This is heavily concerning because it limits the scope of power of other branches of government outside of the executive branch. Lawyers for the company refuse to disclose how TeleTracking Technologies collects and shares its information; in our last article, we heard from physicians and hospital administrators who are extremely concerned that the process in which Covid-19 data will be skewed towards supporting the Trump Administration’s political goals and, given President Trump’s close ties to the founder and CEO of TeleTracking Technologies, this notion does not seem outside of the realm of possibility. This move has been highly criticized by researchers and academics who cannot accurately conduct their own research without transparent data collection and reporting practices.
Finally, a huge concern is that these policy and process changes are coming abruptly and at an awful time. Carrie Kroll, with the Texas Hospital Association, says that “Up until the switch, we were reporting about 70 elements and we’re now at 129… clearly we’re in the middle of a pandemic… this isn’t the type of stuff you try to do in the middle of a pandemic.” Hospitals have been reporting to the CDC with standard practice for over 15 years which means that these changes are a painfully challenging process to push onto hospitals while the Covid-19 Pandemic continues to plague the United States.
The transfer of Covid-19 data reporting responsibilities from the CDC to TeleTracking Technologies is ultimately an irresponsible move on the part of the Trump Administration who have put physicians and patients at a disadvantage by pursuing a path that limits the transparency of data to the general public. However, it is our new reality and if we cannot rely on our government to provide reliable data then we can hope that efforts from private companies, such as IBM, can provide researchers and physicians with trustworthy data.