A pre-existing, well-established European influenza surveillance network known as I-MOVE enabled the rapid implementation of a European multi-country COVID-19 hospital surveillance network for surveillance of hospitalized COVID-19 cases in early 2020. This network included 257 hospitals in 11 surveillance sites across nine countries. We aimed to identify whether the surveillance objectives were relevant to public health actions, whether the surveillance system met its objectives, where and how shortcomings could be improved, and whether the system was sustainable.
We identified six key attributes (meeting objectives, usefulness, timeliness, data quality, simplicity and sustainability) to assess, using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s evaluation framework. We analyzed pooled datasets, held interviews and group discussions with 10 participating and coordinating sites and gathered feedback through web surveys.
There was overall agreement that the surveillance objectives had been met and being involved in a network of European partners had additional important benefits for stakeholders. While the publication of the outputs was not always sufficiently timely, data submission processes were considered straightforward and the key surveillance variables (age, sex, hospital admission and mortality data) were complete. The main challenges were identified as the collection of the large number of variables, limited available human resources and information governance and data protection laws.
I-MOVE-COVID-19 delivered relevant and accurate data supporting the development and implementation of COVID-19 surveillance. Recommendations presented here identify learning opportunities to support preparedness and surveillance response for future pandemics. The applied evaluation framework in this study can be adapted for other European surveillance system evaluations.
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Young, J., Mutch, H., Rose, A., Evans, J. & European COVID-19 Hospital Evaluation Writing Group 2023, 'Enhanced surveillance of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Europe: an evaluation of the I-MOVE-COVID-19 surveillance network', European Journal of Public Health, 23(11), pp. 1223-1225, article no: ckad185. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckad185