Data-dissemination efforts by an academic medical center, an association of teaching hospitals and the federal government's disease-prevention agency earned top awards in a competition sponsored by the National Association of Health Data Organizations.
The Falls Church, Va.-based organization selected the winners from 40 applicants for its first Best Practices Awards, which will be presented Nov. 18 at the NAHDO annual meeting in Tysons Corner, Va.
The award winners are:
John Wennberg, M.D., director of the Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., for a publication titled, Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care in the U.S.
David Witter Jr., director of the Clinical-Administrative Data Service, a database operated by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
T. Demetri Vacalis, director of a project to put a weekly publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, on the World Wide Web.
The inaugural topic selected for the award, data dissemination, is "often seen as the poor sister to collection and analysis of data," said Mark Epstein, NAHDO's executive director.
The Dartmouth project received the top prize for privately sponsored data initiatives in a nonelectronic format.
Published by the American Hospital Association, the book and CD-ROM series is the first time Wennberg's well-known method of "small-area analysis" has been used to define healthcare markets and compare healthcare use and expenditures nationwide, according to the center's contest application.
Wennberg first hatched the analytical method in the early 1970s to compare variations in physician practice patterns for the same conditions and treatments according to geographic referral areas.
The publication's national edition has information on the nation's 306 hospital referral regions, along with diskettes containing files on more than 60 variables in each referral region. Nine regional volumes, scheduled for distribution in November and December, detail variation in the 3,436 hospital service areas, and the accompanying CD-ROM includes expanded tables and additional physician data.
The CDC's Web-based publication of its longstanding weekly report took the top award for publicly sponsored data dissemination in an electronic format.
The AAMC entry won in the category of privately sponsored data dissemination in an electronic format. Its CADS database began in 1991 under the direction of a group called the Academic Medical Center Consortium as a way of sharing comparative data and information to help measure and improve effective use of resources, clinical outcomes, processes and quality.
CADS was merged into the AAMC early this year to make it available to the 400 members of the Council of Teaching Hospitals.
No award was given in a category for publicly sponsored initiatives in nonelectronic formats. Epstein said the competition showed the public sector is lagging in data dissemination efforts. He said NAHDO is taking the lead in trying to get the public sector to improve its dissemination techniques.