WIM Tracking maintains a relational health professions provider and practice database. The data is available to organizations through contractual agreements. The comprehensive dataset is methodically detailed and proactively maintained. WIM uses a manual data surveillance routine to ensure timely upkeep of the data. WIM does not put the burden on providers to submit practice changes, however periodically requests updates through USPS mail or over the phone. The data is inclusive of all licensed providers in active practice and micro-identified based on practicing specialty, practice type and status. Only practice specific information is included. No private information about a provider is included in the WIM Datahub.

The WIM database was developed by utilizing public information. Providers were identified at his/her practice location and a state license verified with the state licensing board’s public files.  From there, WIM began a labor intensive, manual tracking routine that consisted of public information set reviews, phone calls and provider website/directory reviews to determine which practice location to electronically assign each provider. This digital provider to practice relationship allows WIM to determine provider counts by specialty and/or county based on practice location(s). One primary practice location is assigned to each actively practicing provider and one or more secondary practice locations may be assigned to a provider. The providers that are retired, not in clinical practice, not practicing in the state are not assigned a practice location.

Data Creation: How the Database was Initially Created

Step 1: Table of practices. First a table of practices was created – any active independent or organized health care facility was added as a record to this table. Practice name, physical and mailing address, website, phone, fax, facility type etc.

Step 2: Table of providers. By reviewing the database of practices, the providers practicing at that location were assigned to that practice. This was done by utilizing independently maintained websites (hospital directories, independent doctor websites). Any doctor directories that are maintained by organizations outside of the actual facility are never used (such as DocFinder. com, Healthgrades.com those websites utilize the National Provider Identifier datasets, which are not proactively maintained). WIM data is all manually reviewed.

Step 3: Create a Providers to Practices relational database. As the providers are identified as practicing at a facility, the provider is “assigned” to a practice location. This creates a bi-directional relationship.

Ste 4: Once all of the practices had been reviewed to find providers, all of the providers that are licensed in that state and had not been assigned to a practice were reviewed to find their practice location. These provider locations are verified over the phone.  The WIM datasets include providers seeing patients through a facility accessible to the public (IHS, VA, State Hospital employees etc are not included).

Data Maintenance

WIM utilizes multiple data sources to keep up to date on provider movement. When a provider relocates or retires, the provider is included in the system’s Movement Report.

  • Phone Calls – WIM calls practices to determine changes in active providers.
  • Paper Assessments – WIM mails out workforce assessments to practice managers to collect information about providers and practices.
  • Licensing Boards – WIM utilizes state licensing boards to review providers with a new or expired license.
  • NPI Data – WIM follows the National Provider Identifier (NPI) data set for alerts on providers filing Medicaid or Medicare claims in a new area.
  • Press Releases – WIM utilizes key word algorithms to receive notifications of any e-news related to providers or practices in the region.
  • Workforce Research Collaboration – WIM works in tandem with state agencies on special data projects. This often includes paper assessments, phone calls, emails and website analysis.
  • Online Collection – Providers complete online assessments through the WIM website.
  • Social Media – WIM follows medical practices that operate a Facebook page. When a practice posts about a new provider or change of address, WIM will verify the change with a phone call or review of the facility’s website and update WIM profiles accordingly. When a new provider is located, WIM reviews all providers at the location to see if the new provider is replacing another provider who has relocated or retired.

WIM reviews provider profiles that are not updated through one of the above maintenance methods on a rotating basis. Dentists and primary care providers are reviewed quarterly, specialty physicians, physician assistants and APRNs are reviewed every six months and chiropractors, optometrists, podiatrists and acupuncturists are reviewed every six to twelve months.

Datahub Design

In consideration for how user data needs differ, WIM designed the datahub and maintenance process with the following standardization in mind:

  • Providers may be associated to as many practices as relevant to his/her medical practice. The primary designation assures that a provider is only counted once (at the primary practice location) in reporting features.
  • Providers are assigned to practices, allowing a practice profile to include a list of all providers actively practicing at the location.
  • Previous practice locations are not deleted from a provider’s profile. These locations are marked as Former and date stamped.
  • Self-reported hometown and state, undergraduate and graduate medical education is under collection and included in provider profiles when known.
  • Both a physical and mailing address are included for all providers.
  • License numbers and NPIs are utilized for crosschecking purposes.
  • Data entry errors are minimized through cascading auto-population data entry tools.
  • Data is geocoded utilizing the Google Maps Geocoding API.

Data Identifiers

Providers: Providers are identified with the following fields.

License Status: Active or Inactive

Provider Practice Status: Actively Seeing Patients, Not Seeing Patients, Deceased, Retired

Specialty: Self-reported practicing specialty

Practices:  Practices are identified with the following fields. When a provider is assigned to a practice location, these fields are joined to the provider level.

Type: Hospital, Community Health Center, Primary Care, etc types of services provided

Provider and Practice: A relational join is created when a provider is assigned to a practice with these identifiers.

Practice Status: Primary, Secondary, Former

Practice Type: Administrator, Consultant, Employed, Federal Employee, Independent, Locum Tenens, Researcher, State Employee, Telemedicine, Volunteer

Why track providers based on practice location?

  1. For easy data manipulation. Tracking 3,000 practice locations is much more manageable than tracking 15,000. ie if a Billings Clinic location moves to a new location, WIM can update one Billings Clinic location and each and every provider associated with that location will automatically have his/her information updated.
  2. Access to a database of practice locations provides users with simplified mailing lists and metrics.  It also allows us to collect more information on the services provided at each location, rather than on the provider level.
  3. Practice location tracking, provides WIM with a more manageable tracking routine. WIM can pull up Benefis Orthopeadics and look for any changes in staff at one time, rather than pulling up each individual provider’s account.

That’s a look into the intricacies of the WIM Datahub. It’s like finding the Upside Down in an episode of Stranger Things.

How the WIM Behavioral Health Dataset was Developed

The data collected by WIM to complete the behavioral health dataset and The Bright App has been done manually and by utilizing the following process.

  1. Table of behavioral health practice locations. Utilizing a matrix of practice types (Community Health Centers, Private Practices, Critical Access Hospitals and Clinics, etc.), the WIM Data Expert went county by county and built a table of practice locations. Each practice location includes practice name, practice type, physical and mailing addresses, phone, fax and website.
  2. Providers at each practice location. The WIM Data Expert went county by county through each practice location and worked to identify who the providers were at each location. Some locations have access to provider directories on their websites, other locations the WIM Data Expert had to reach out to over the phone. As the WIM Data Expert found out who the providers were, she would assign the provider based on his/her information with the state licensing bureau to that practice location in WIM. Some phone call requests for information were not answered.
  3. State licensure data. The WIM Data Expert then went through the state licensing list and looked at each of the providers with an address on file with their license and looked for a practice location for that provider. If a new practice location for a provider was found she would create a new practice in WIM and assign that provider to the location.
  4. Provider Input. The WIM Data Expert then sent out a request for information to all of the providers that she had found to be practicing asking each for further details about his/her practice. The provider was able to submit a form online or via fax or USPS mail. Providers are encouraged to keep their practice information update through an online form available at WIMTracking.com and TheBrightApp.org.
  5. Providers Unable to Locate. Providers that were on the state licensure list that pointed to a Montana practice location were reviewed. If the provider was no longer at that location and another location was not found, the provider would be marked in WIM as unable to locate. These providers remain in a query in the back end of WIM and may be updated in the future with a practice location, should a new one be found.

Best Judgement: There are situations where a provider’s practice location is not verified over the phone with the provider’s office or through a Request for Assistance submission. If a provider is unable to be reached over the phone, unwilling to verbally verify a practice location or does not complete the Request for Assistance, Best Judgement is exercised by the WIM data expert. Best Judgment is based on WIM’s experience in contacting provider locations and allows a practice location to be active if 1) the phone number has been called by the WIM data expert, is active and the voice recording provides information about the practice and 2) a letter has been mailed to the provider and the letter has not been returned due to being undeliverable.

Multiple License Types: Behavioral health providers may have more than one active license type. A licensed LCPC may also have a LAC license. In WIM, each provider is represented only once. The following hierarchy was assigned to licenses when multiple licenses were identified for a provider.

  • Psychologist
  • LCPC – Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
  • LAC – Licensed Addiction Counselor
  • LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker – (LCSWs are still under the initial data collection phase and not currently available in the WIM Datahub set. More research is needed to complete this dataset. These providers who WIM knows to have a current practice location are available in The Bright App.)

Example of Multiple License Type Hierarchy: If a provider has a psychologist license and an LCPC license, the provider is listed as a psychologist under license type. The license type two in the back end of WIM identifies the provider as also holding an LCPC license.

Important Notes:

  • Providers practicing at the VA are not included in the standard WIM dataset or The Bright App. Research on these providers is complete and available upon request.
  • Providers practicing at therapeutic boarding schools, CSCT or other school based counseling programs are not included in the standard WIM dataset or The Bright App.
  • Providers practicing at IHS are not included in the standard WIM dataset or The Bright App.
  • Providers in corrections programs are not included in the standard WIM dataset or The Bright App.
  • Licensed Addiction Counselor Candidates, Licensed Professional Counselor Candidates and Licensed Clinical Social Worker Candidates are included in The Bright App, however they are not included in the WIM Datahub set.

Ongoing Data Maintenance: The behavioral health data will be continually updated by the WIM Data Expert who will go county by county and review the practice locations seeking changes in provider locations. This will be in conjunction with the WIM physician, APRN, PA and dentist data reviews.

How You Can Utilize and Support this New Dataset

The data is available in a free search and report format to the public through thebrightapp.org.

Put The Bright App on your website: Help your website visitors locate a behavioral health care provider by placing The Bright App on your website. It costs nothing for you or your website visitors. The data streams directly from the WIM Datahub. Support this public tool by subscribing to the WIM Datahub or by sponsoring The Bright App.

Tell Others: Please support the development of this data and share this information with others that may be interested in the data. Share the WIM Datahub and The Bright App.