The Public Health - Seattle & King County syndromic surveillance system has been collecting emergency department (ED) data since 1999. These data include hospital name, age, sex, zip code, chief complaint, diagnoses (when available), disposition, and a patient and visit key. Data are collected for 19 of 20 King County EDs, for visits that occurred the previous day. Over time, various problems with data quality have been encountered, including data drop-offs, missing data elements, incorrect values of fields, duplication of data, data delays, and unexpected changes in files received from hospitals. In spite of close monitoring of the data as part of our routine syndromic surveillance activities, there have occasionally been delays in identifying these problems. Since the validity of syndromic surveillance is dependent on data quality, we sought to develop a visualization to help monitor data quality over time, in order to improve the timeliness of addressing data quality problems.
We sought to develop a method for visualizing data quality over time.