Data Revolutionaries: Routine Administrative Data Can Be Sexy Too

Sebastian Bauhoff at Center for Global Development: “Routine operational data on government programs lack sexiness, and are generally not trendy withData Revolutionaries. But unlike censuses and household surveys, routine administrative data are readily available at low cost, cover key populations and service providers, and are generally at the right level of disaggregation for decision-making on payment and service delivery. Despite their potential utility, these data remain an under-appreciated asset for generating evidence and informing policy—a particularly egregious omission given that developing countries can leapfrog old, inefficient approaches for more modern methods to collect and manage data. Verifying receipt of service via biometric ID and beneficiary fingerprint at the point of service? India’s already doing it.

To better make the case for routine data, two questions need to be answered—what exactly can be learned from these data and how difficult are they to use?

In a paper just published in Health Affairs with collaborators from the World Bank and the Government of India, we probed these questions using claims data from India’s National Health Insurance Program, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY). Using the US Medicare program as a comparison, we wondered whether reimbursement claims data that RSBY receives from participating hospitals could be used to study the quality of care provided. The main goal was to see how far we could push on an example dataset of hospital claims from Puri, a district in Orissa state.

Here’s what we learned…(More)”