Improving Community Outcomes through Health Center Program Data [Part 3]

August 17th, 2020 | Story


A Work in Progress All Year Long

When the latest UDS report is released in the summer of 2020, it will contain eleven tables and three forms with detailed information on every aspect of the health centers and the care they provide.

It will show the number of patients and their socio-demographic characteristics along with the type and quantity of services received. There will be counts of staff providing the services along with the quality of care.

On the financial side, it will have data about the cost and efficiency of care along with the amount of health center income and the sources of that revenue.

It’s the result of a continuous year-round effort of finalizing the report on the previous year while preparing the one for the current year. The cyclical process begins with the planning for annual table and reporting instruction changes, which is done the year before the data is reported in February by health centers.

Along with our partner, Advocates for Human Potential, we work with each center to prepare and equip it to meet the reporting requirements, collecting and processing data, evaluating and validating the data, and collaborating with HRSA to analyze the information. As reporting changes are incorporated, the health centers get their first chance to review data and validate it in November and December, in a preliminary environment before the reporting system officially opens in January.

To help the centers get ready for the next round of reporting, we offer training opportunities. These are national day-long sessions conducted in concert with the state Primary Care Associations for people from different health centers throughout the state and surrounding areas to come together with a trainer. There are also online workshops and training resources that people can access at any time.

JSI also runs a help center to provide guidance and answer questions. It’s available year-round but busiest in the months leading up to the report deadline. This is when centers are managing the process of complying with updated requirements and transferring data from their systems to the UDS.

Once the data has been turned in, it is reviewed for accuracy and anomalies. This process helps to ensure the reliability of the data, building confidence in the system. Our trained reviewers, many of whom have worked on the project for years, spend weeks going over the numbers looking for unusual changes or discrepancies. When there are questions, reviewers work directly with health centers to resolve them before reports are finalized.

We have developed hundreds of logical and threshold parameter checks on the data, based on relationships between the numbers in the report and comparison to national norms and prior year reporting by the same health center. These ‘edits’ are performed by computer and provided to the health centers, but it’s the trained reviewer who determines what may need attention based on reviews along with these automated tests.

“Reviewers are looking for numbers that seem out of place. A large increase in one category could represent a change within an organization, or it could be due to an entry error,” said JSI UDS Project Director Diane Lewis. “This part of the process is vital to ensuring the accuracy of the UDS and building confidence in what it represents.”

All issues identified are discussed with the health center, and resolved and/or documented prior to final reports and data being published by HRSA.


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