Data and Data Sources

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Data can support QI initiatives by proving efficacy, showing opportunities for further growth, and illustrating changing needs. However, sometimes data can be intimidating: Why does it matter? How do we use it? How can we make the most of data?


How to Find and Use Data

It's important to ask yourself a number of questions before you start collecting data, to ensure you're collecting the right kind of data to meet your needs.

What story do you want to tell?

Think about these questions prior to collecting data:

  • Would you like to describe the problem in a holistic manner, or highlight a specific component of the problem?
  • Do you want to support a specific solution, or engage others in a collaborative decision-making process?
  • Do you want to frame your story from the perspective of a certain person or population?

What kind of data can tell that story?

  • Incremental data over time
  • Point-in-time snapshot
  • Exact measures, averages, or ranges

How can you use data to drive improvement?

The right data can help you:

  • Identify the problem
  • Define the problem
  • Communicate the scope, relevance, and importance of the problem
  • Devise appropriate interventions for the problem

Tools for Data Collection

IconMany of the tools in the QI Toolbox can be used to collect and display data. You and your organization can collect data on a large or small scale using these tools, or you can visit a data source below with information on a much larger scale.

Minnesota Data Sources

Icon Minnesota Public Health Data Access
Provides Minnesota data about health, the environment, and other risk factors that may impact public health
Icon Minnesota Community Measurement
Provides information on health care delivery at many levels, as well as information on reimbursement levels
Icon Minnesota Guide to Data Indicators for County Health Assessments (PDF: 159KB / 16 pages)
Provides counties with questions to consider when collecting and analyzing data, a list of selected indicators, links to the indicator's website, and data sources for other indicators
Icon Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC)
Provides data to assist in preventing disease through immunization
Icon Minnesota Center for Health Statistics
Provides data on state- and county-level public health measures

Federal Data Sources

Icon CDC: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
Tracks health conditions and risk behaviors, at varying levels
Icon CDC Wonder
Provides ad-hoc query system for many facets of public health data
Icon Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS)
Measures performance on dimensions of care and service; tracked by health plans
Icon Kaiser Family Foundation: State Health Facts
Allows state-by-state comparison of demographics, health status, insurance coverage, public program participation, and more
Icon SHADAC Data Center
Provides information on health insurance coverage at the state and national level
Icon National Immunization Survey
Provides information on levels of immunization among children/teens
Icon HealthData.gov
Collection of data sets on public health and health care
Icon US Census
Provides demographic data on individuals, households, and business/industry