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).
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.
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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.