Skip to main content

Innovations to Address Health Care Data Gaps

Medical Records on shelf in Doctors office
Supporting research on physicians and social determinants of health
  • Client
    Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Dates
    September 2020 - August 2022

NORC’s Role in Filling Research Data Gaps for AHRQ’s Health Care Policy and Clinical Practice Research

NORC conducted two separate data development initiatives commissioned by AHRQ to fill key research data gaps: Physician and Physician Practice Research Databases (3P-RD) and the Social Determinants of Health Research Databases (SDOH-RD). Both initiatives were aimed at supporting research on existing and emerging issues related to health care policy and clinical practice research while also complementing existing AHRQ resources.

The 3P-RD Initiative: Creating a Physician and Physician Practice Research Database

The 3P-RD initiative was a feasibility study aimed at creating a prototype physician and physician practice research database. Using available administrative data, the 3P-RD captured the census of active physicians and physician practices in a given state; the conditions for acquiring and using these data for AHRQ’s internal purposes; and the possibility of creating research databases from these data sources for public release. As part of this initiative, NORC conducted an environmental scan of available data sources for physician and physician practices, focusing primarily on administrative sources; designed and built a prototype database; and completed a feasibility study based on information from the environmental scan and the experience designing and building the prototype database. After evaluating and implementing this proof of concept, NORC identified options and provided recommendations for AHRQ’s consideration on how this prototype can be sustained as an established program.

The SDOH-RD Initiative: Developing a Social Determinants of Health Research Database

The goal of the Social Determinants of Health Research Database (SDOH-RD) initiative was to create a database that can be used for research and policy analysis—one that built on the strengths of existing efforts, addresses current gaps, and furthers AHRQ’s value-add footprint in the field. By identifying key gaps in existing data sources, the SDOH-RD initiative focused on value-add domains that span socioeconomic characteristics and features of health care provider and insurance markets. NORC acquired and used data to populate datasets; developed and used a coherent, standardized approach to construct variables; and developed and applied methods to create novel SDOH measures. The SDOH-RD database is intended for researchers looking to analyze the relationships among SDOH factors and health outcomes. The SDOH-RD can be used as a stand-alone source as well as linked to other data resources such as the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and the Healthcare Cost Utilization Project (HCUP).

Project Leads

Explore NORC Health Projects

Adapting and Implementing a Toolkit to Identify Pneumonia in Patients

Adapting and implementing patient safety practices in ambulatory care


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy & Health Disparities Among Rural Farmworkers

Using Migrant and Seasonal Head Start infrastructure to distribute COVID-19 vaccines and document health disparities


W. K. Kellogg Foundation