Data Quality for a Data to Care Program
Before developing and implementing a Data to Care program that uses HIV surveillance data to identify HIV-diagnosed “not in care” (NIC) individuals and link or re-engage them to care, health departments should ensure that the data sources they plan to use are of good quality. By using high quality data, Data to Care program staff will spend less time attempting to reach people who are already in care, deceased, or who have left the jurisdiction. The ability to use HIV surveillance data to take public health action and link or re-engage people to care relies heavily on having access to timely and high-quality HIV surveillance data.
As part of the formative process of developing a Data to Care program, as well as for ongoing evaluation, HIV surveillance programs should, at a minimum, conduct an assessment of their data quality as recommended and described in CDC’s Technical Guidance for HIV Surveillance Programs. We encourage health departments to conduct additional quality assurance activities that other agencies already conducting Data to Care programs might be using; some of the health department program examples highlighted on this Web site describe such efforts.
Failure to assess HIV surveillance data quality could result in inaccurate information with the following results:
- Missed opportunities for re-engaging HIV-diagnosed NIC individuals, or
- Contacting HIV-diagnosed persons who are currently in care, which could:
- Waste resources,
- Lead to poor community and provider support for a Data to Care program, and
- Confuse or irritate the HIV-diagnosed person.
To the extent that health departments use other databases, such as CAREWare
, to cross-reference and help classify individuals as in or out of care, they should assess the quality of those data sources for the same reasons cited above.