BOX 6-2

MassCHIP, the Massachusetts Community Health Information Profile, is a dynamic, user-friendly information service that provides free, online access to sociodemographic, health, and social indicators. Using MassCHIP, one may query, pose questions, and retrieve information on a variety of health and related topics concerning children, youth, and families for a range of geographic areas in order to assess health needs, monitor health status, and evaluate health programs. MassCHIP includes data that reflect a broad view of population and public health.

MassCHIP currently contains over 28 major datasets from health, education, and human service agencies. For example, it currently contains data from the Office for Child Care Services; the departments of Education, Social Services, and Transitional Assistance; the divisions of Employment and Training, Health Care Finance and Policy, and Medicaid; the Board of Registration in Medicine; and the Bureau of the Census, in addition to the Department of Public Health.

Developed originally with grants from MCHB/HRSA and CDC, MassCHIP has a number of easily accessible (via the web) reports on 23 specific topics. Included among the options are specific “instant reports” on adolescents, children with special health care needs, perinatal indicators, Healthy People 2010 maternal and child health objectives, and the KIDS COUNT indicators for all levels of geography, including census tract, city and town, county, region of state, school district, etc.

In addition to “instant topic” reports, users can generate their own reports across datasets and time periods for different geographic areas. To execute the most flexible queries, users must download the application onto their computer and access MassCHIP data servers through the Internet. MassCHIP returns counts of events and a wide variety of statistical measures, including percentages, age-specific and age-adjusted rates, and standardized incidence ratios. The system provides charting and mapping options and results may be exported.

MassCHIP is currently in transition onto the web with enhanced functionality and appearance. The first phase is complete with Instant Topic reports on the web; in the next phases, the user-friendly custom report functions will also be available on the web. It was awarded the Massachusetts Investing in Information Award for improving the state’s health information infrastructure by the Massachusetts Health Data Consortium in 1998.

For additional information, see

sioned by the committee as desirable for a data system of the future. The disadvantage of linking datasets is that more concerns are raised about confidentiality and privacy, discussed later in this chapter.

A linked data system must adhere to state and federal rules and regulations regarding the collection and dissemination of confidential data; the Health Insur-

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