Health Services Data: Typology of Health Care Data

  • Ross M. MullnerEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Health Services Research book series (HEALTHSR)


Health services researchers study access, cost, quality, and the outcome of health care. These researchers frequently use existing data collected by government agencies and private organizations to monitor and evaluate current health care programs and systems and to predict the consequences of proposed new health policies. Primarily focusing on US data sources, this chapter outlines a practical typology, or classification framework, of health care data that is often used by these researchers when they are gathering data and conducting their studies. The typology addresses three important inextricably linked questions. First, what is the basic unit of analysis for the study? These units include individuals, households, groups/populations, health care organizations, health care programs, and national health care systems. Second, how were these data collected? The methods used to collect data include literature reviews, observations, focus groups, surveys, medical records and administrative and billing sources, registries, and vital records. Third, which government agency or private organization collected and is currently holding these data? Government data collection and holding agencies include US health information clearinghouses and libraries, US registries, US government agencies and departments, health programs and systems of other (non-US) nations, and government sponsored international organizations. Private data collecting and holding organizations include health information clearinghouses and libraries; accreditation, evaluation, and regulatory organizations; associations and professional societies; foundations and trusts; health insurance and employee benefits organizations; registries; research and policy organizations; and survey research organizations. To illustrate each of the questions and classifications, many examples are provided and discussed. And many US and other public use data files are identified and described.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public HealthUniversity of IllinoisChicagoUSA

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