September 16, 2011: SHARE has released a series of three briefs by grantee Michael O’Grady, Senior Fellow at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), to identify the most useful set of next-generation data linkage projects for the purpose of informing health care reform implementation.
What is Data Linkage?
Health services researchers and policymakers often face the challenge of having incomplete data. Health-related data, whether from surveys, claims, or administrative records, are often created and held by different public and private entities. To address this disconnect, individual data sets can be linked to one another, providing a more comprehensive overarching data set while avoiding the cost of duplicate data collection.
The process of linking data sets can take a number of different forms, but the common characteristic of the process is the application of statistical methods in order to identify and connect the same—or demographically similar—individuals within each of the data sets. For example, a researcher might match survey respondents with their actual claims and eligibility files in order to study the correlation between income level and service utilization.
The "Next Generation of Data Linkage Projects" Three-Part Series
The information in these briefs is based on literature reviews and on interviews with key technical staff who work on linked data, as well as interviews with outside researchers and analytic staff whose work directly informs policymakers. The briefs explore, respectively, (1) priority areas for data linkage under the ACA; (2) barriers and challenges to creating linked data sets; and (3) the sustainability of data linkage projects and potential coalitions of interest to support these efforts.
Follow the links above to access the briefs online, or download the briefs as PDFs below.