Information Needs Associated with the Changing Organization and Delivery of Health Care: Summary of Perceptions, Activities, Key Gaps, and Priorities. IV. Extent to Which Gaps are Being Addressed: What We Learned



  • There are ongoing efforts within the private sector, states and foundations/research communities to address some of the data gaps stakeholders perceive relative to with the health system. We identified 23 such efforts, focusing on 11 for more intensive study.
  • The impetus for these efforts stems from stakeholder concerns with limitations in information on the structure, process, and outcomes of the health care system. More specifically, the activities we studied highlight priority concerns about creating better information on the structural linkages among players in the system and their implications; about operational features of arrangements among providers and managed care plans useful in strategic planning and policy development; and about operational performance measures and benchmarks to assess both process and outcomes of care.
  • Though sponsors of these activities perceive them to be focused on high priority issues, they also perceive significant limitations in the scope of their efforts. These arise because resources are limited, because there are lags in data availability which limits timeliness, and because providers are less willing to provide information in a highly competitive environment with extensive data demands. In addition, quality problems and inconsistencies in the available information, combined with a lack of standardization or audit, serve as barriers.

Through our interviews, we identified a number of efforts designed to respond to perceived data gaps. Many of these are modifications in or expansions to ongoing data collection by associations to develop information needed by their members. Other efforts take the form of independent research funded by foundations or other parties to fill in the gaps.

Their sponsors perceive these efforts as being relatively limited compared with the needs. Key limitations stem from the limits of players’ authority and resources, which restrict the amount and kind of information that can be obtained. Other barriers to better information are grounded in the lack of consistency in definitions used by reporting units and to challenges related to collecting information in an environment in which the willingness to supply information is limited by market considerations.

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