relational database

an electronic data storage structure in which information about different types of entities (e.g., patients, visits, insurance providers…)  is stored in separate tables. Each row in a table is a distinct instance of that entity type and the relationship between entity types / tables is defined by specific rules ( e.g., patients can 1 or more visits; visits can only have 1 patient). Relational data ideally captures more information and keeps it better organized than “flat” data, but it can be less flexible and takes more skill to manipulate.


(ADT) real-time  data feeds that carry patient demographic and visit information. Whereas claims data are generally retrospective, ADT data can be used to trigger events.


geographic information systems are a category of software that capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and visualize geographic and spatially referenced data. This includes but is not limited to the production of maps. In hotspotting, GIS can be used to discover and display the unequal distribution of health variables within a geographic community. It can also be used at the data cleaning stage to standardize and correct patient address data.

probabilistic linkage

also called fuzzy matching, refers to the process of identifying common individuals within and across data sets who lack a common ID and would not be identified through deterministic (exact) matching techniques. probabilistic matching involves algorithms that create a probability that two records are plausibly related to one another. there are a number technological tools to help facilitate the process.

data sharing agreement

a formal agreement that allows a hospital to share its data with a third party / outside organization to facilitate care coordination for superutilizers. Often involves a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) and a Collaborative Services Agreement (CSA).


the conversion of information and data into a form that cannot be easily understood by unauthorized people. encryption does not prevent information from being intercepted, but denies the message to the interceptor.