Linking Data in South Carolina Enables Analyses Across Health Care Settings

From 1992 to 1997, South Carolina's Division of Research and Statistical Services developed a data systems improvement plan to link patient and program systems into a full patient-centered database extending across all health care settings over an extended period of time.

Project staff also worked to create a Data Oversight Council to make recommendations concerning health care data issues in the state.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Information for State Health Policy national program.

Key Results

  • South Carolina passed legislation in 1993 that created the Data Oversight Council (DOC), composed of representatives from both the public and private sectors. The council makes periodic recommendations to a legislative health care committee concerning:
    • What data systems should be built in the state.
    • What analyses should be performed.
    • What data and information can be disseminated for public use.
  • The DOC gathered information on data release policies from 26 states and numerous professional organizations and constructed its own data release protocol.
  • Project staff linked multiple data sets together—for instance, hospital discharge data with emergency room data, outpatient surgery data, birth and death records, mental health data, and other data sets. The database is intended to enable analyses across health care settings and over time.