The Cost-Quality Trade-Off

Need for Data Quality Standards for Studies That Impact Clinical Practice and Health Policy

Published in: Journal of Clinical Oncology, v. 23, no. 21, Editorial, July 20, 2005, p. 4581-4584

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2005

by Jennifer Malin, Nancy L. Keating

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Observational studies of cancer patients often rely on existing administrative data such as insurance claims and cancer registry data. As researchers began to supplement administrative data with patient self-reported data or medical record review, limitations in the validity of these easily obtainable data sets began to emerge. Therefore, it is important to consider the accuracy of data obtained from various sources and whether trading highly accurate data for lower costs is acceptable, based on the intended use of the data. When weighing the advantages and disadvantages of data from various sources, the intended use for the data becomes an important consideration. Some uses of data may require less accuracy than others. Given the variety of available data sources and the differing uses of data, minimum standards of acceptable data quality are needed to assure the validity of data collection efforts with the potential to influence clinical care or policy. Decisions made by payors, lawmakers and other stakeholders have the potential for tremendous impact on health outcomes and should be made with the best available evidence.

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