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2019 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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4125 — Improving Data Documentation

Lead/Presenter: Todd Wagner,  Resource Center - HERC
All Authors: Wagner TH (HERC), Illarmo, S Gehlert, E

The objective of this poster is to present researchers with options for updating data documentation and get their feedback on next steps. Older VA researchers will remember documentation contained in the "Blue Books". VIREC transitioned this documentation to the web, but the underlying datasets were relatively stable year in and year out. More recent data on the Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW), such as the Community Care data, are changing rapidly. Data stewards add new variables and change the business rules, often with no documentation. This poster presents HERC's work to document the rapidly changing Community Care data. We seek input from researchers on ways to update the documentation and include input from users.

The CDW and VINCI provided researchers with increased access to VA data that were previously not available. Now with the move to the Cerner electronic medical record and the growth of VA purchased care, the data landscape continues to evolve faster than the documentation. HERC has developed a website to orient researchers to use the new VA purchase care data known as PIT, or the Program Integrity Tool. This poster presents our ongoing efforts to document new VA data, including PIT. We are seeking feedback from meeting attendees on ways to improve the documentation, as well as ways to include contributions from researchers.

HERC has created a series of webpages that describe PIT data from the VA Office of Community Care. Our approach has been to describe the data, including highlights of key variables. Unclear is whether it would help build task-oriented documentation.

VA will struggle with documenting data as it shifts to Cerner and develops new systems for purchased care. These documentation tasks can be aided by HERC, VINCI and VIREC, but we will also need to find ways to include user-contributed information.

Researchers need data documentation to use the VA data effectively. With rapid changes in VA data, we need to improve the speed by which we document data.