Skip to main content



Understand how substance abuse treatment agencies collect, manage, and use data and the types of information collected by treatment agencies. The study will focus on three agency processes: admission, discharge, and level of care transfer. It will describe how information is used to support agency billing and ancillary systems and provided to state and other regulatory reporting systems.

Project Impacts in the Field

Building on the information gathered in this project, systems can be created or extended to help provider organizations more effectively measure and evaluate efforts to improve quality. With improved data tracking and quality improvement systems, payers (e.g., states) may implement provider-respected payment systems that reward quality and allow for efficient and useful measurement, feedback, and comparison of provider performance. Finally, these results may ultimately support systems that effectively inform consumers about the quality of care.



The study represents a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin and Oregon Health and Sciences University. Drs. Jay Ford and Jennifer Wisdom are the co-principal investigators and the project team also consists of Dr. Meg Wise and Deirdre Mackey-Misztal. The study team will recruit a total of eight treatment agencies—two each in Illinois, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin—and will interview six to eight individuals per agency about the intake, discharge, and level of care transfer processes. The analytical approach will combine data mapping, a process improvement technique from the business and management fields, with qualitative inquiry, a facet of social science research, to:

  • (a) identify the data (e.g., demographics, questionnaire data) collected and sources of data;
  • (b) determine who is responsible for collecting the data and how it is collected;
  • (c) describe and map how the data elements flow through the organization;
  • (d) identify what processes (e.g., assessment) or systems (e.g., clinical or financial) the data are designed to support;
  • (e) describe how the collected data elements are actually used within the system (e.g., state reporting requirements, process improvement); and
  • (f) identify potential agency attributes or barriers that influence the agencies' ability to collect data.

Funding Period:
January 2007 - December 2008