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The Researcher's Guide to VA Data

VA Information Resource Center

 

Database & Methods Cyberseminar Series

image of magnifying glass

Navigating the VA Data Landscape

VIReC's Database & Methods Series is an introductory guide to VA data and information systems. Sessions are designed to help VA researchers understand common VA data sources and how they are used in research and quality improvement. This series is suitable for all levels.

Current Schedule

VIReC’s Database & Methods Cyberseminar Series is updated yearly to address changes in the data environment. It begins with an introduction to VIReC and VA databases, an overview of resources for using these data, and information about data access and request processes. Presenters will then discuss a variety of data topics and sources, describing how VA data can be applied to research and quality improvement questions. Select the Special Topics Archive tab above to explore cyberseminars from previous years on topics such as comorbidities, laboratory data and more.

Session Upcoming Archived
Meet VIReC: The Researcher's Guide to VA Data
Learn about VIReC, a key resource for navigating VA’s complex data landscape and an advocate for data user needs. This session provides an overview of VIReC activities, products, and services along with a tour of the Center's websites and online resources.

Presented by: Maria Souden
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View
10/2/23
Navigating VA Data Sources: An Overview of Commonly Used Databases
Introduces common VA data sources and resources for using them effectively.

Presented by: Maria Souden
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View
11/6/23
Navigating VA Data Access: An Overview of the Process for Requesting Permission to Use VA Data
Provides guidance on determining the data necessary for research and operations projects and describes the framework for requesting access to commonly used VA data sources, including where to find specific instructions for the most frequently analyzed VA data sources.

Presented by: Linda Kok
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View
12/4/23
Requesting and Including State Data, including All-Payer Claims Databases (APCDs), in VA Studies and Evaluations
Provides VA research and operations communities information regarding the request and use of state data (including All-Payer Claims Databases) to better capture a complete picture of Veterans' healthcare utilization.

Presented by: Megan Vanneman; Cathy Battaglia; Ahmed Mohamed; Amy Rosen;
Todd Wagner
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View
1/8/24
Understanding VA-Purchased Community Care Claims and Referrals from the Office of Integrated Veteran Care Consolidated Data Set (IVC_CDS)
This seminar covers basic knowledge necessary to access and analyze VA-purchased community care data from IVC_CDS clams and referrals data.

Presented by: Erin Beilstein-Wedel
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View
2/5/24
Understanding and Accessing the Office of Connected Care's Patient-Generated Health Data (PGHD) Data
This cyberseminar will cover the current content of the Patient-Generated Health Data (PGHD) database and how to access it for research and operational use.

Presented by: Terry Newton;Stephanie Shimada; Mark Zocchi
Register
3/4/24
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Assessing Race and Ethnicity in VA Data
Describes how to locate race and ethnicity data and assess its quality in VA and Medicare.

Presented by: Maria Mor
4/1/24 View
4/3/23
An Introduction to VA Pharmacy Data: Sources and Uses for Medication Information
Explores commonly used data sources for evaluating Veterans’ use of medications.

Presented by: Timothy Anderson & Bonnie Paris

5/6/24 View
5/1/23
Centralized Interactive Phenomics Resource (CIPHER): Overview and Demonstration of the VA Phenomics Library
Overview and updates from CIPHER, the VA Phenomics Library. CIPHER is a catalog and knowledge-sharing platform of electronic health record (EHR) based phenomics metadata and annotations that aims to optimize Veterans' health data, drive collaborative research and improve clinical operations.

Presented by: Kelly Cho & Jacqueline Honerlaw

6/3/24 View
6/5/23
Applications for Joint Longitudinal Viewer (JLV) in Research: Introduction
This session is the first of a two-part series describing what is needed to begin using JLV for research, including an interactive presentation on setting up a JLV workspace for basic research tasks.

Presented by: Amber Lane & Reese Omizo
7/1/24 View
7/10/23
Applications for Joint Longitudinal Viewer (JLV) in Research: Day to Day Uses
The second session of this two-part series explores advanced uses of JLV to uncover clinical data. Applications for Joint Longitudinal Viewer (JLV) in Research: Introduction for an introduction to JLV.

Presented by: Amber Lane & Reese Omizo
7/15/24 View
7/24/23
VHA Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW): Using CDW Data to Conduct a Research Study
This seminar shows concrete examples of using CDW data to perform a simple study using VA data.

Presented by: Anne Hines
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View
9/25/23

Special Topics Archive

The Database & Methods Cyberseminar Archive lists prior sessions. It features presentations from the current year’s schedule along with those from previous years. Sessions are point-in-time. Information is current and accurate for the year in which the information was presented.

Select a title below to access the recording, handout, and transcript for that session.

Comorbidity

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
9/9/2019 Advanced Comorbidity Measures
Takes a deep dive into comorbidity measures for a more advanced audience. Prerequisite: Comorbidity Measures Using VA & CMS Data introduces approaches to and issues in assessing comorbidity using VA and Medicare claims data.
Comorbidity Denise Hynes
9/10/2018 Comorbidity Measures Using VA & CMS Data
Provides overview of current approaches to and issues in assessing comorbidity using VA and Medicare claims data. Also describes efforts to improve measurement of comorbidity using claims data.
Comorbidity Denise Hynes

Community Care

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
9/12/2022 Updates on VA-Purchased Community Care Data
This cyberseminar will provide an overview of VA-purchased community care data sources and describe methods related to calculating utilization, cost, and access.
Community Care Erin Beilstein-Wedel
Matthew Labo
Megan Vanneman
Todd Wagner

Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW)

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
9/25/2023 VHA Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW): Using CDW Data to Conduct a Research Study
This cyberseminar will provide an overview of VA-purchased community care data sources and describe methods related to calculating utilization, cost, and access.
CDW Anne Hines
5/22/2023 VHA Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW): A Conceptual Overview
This seminar summarizes terms and concepts associated with relational databases and provides an overview of the VHA’s Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW) as it exists in 2023.
CDW Margaret Gonsoulin

Electronic Health Record Databases & Tools, e.g., JLV

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
7/24/2023 Applications for Joint Longitudinal Viewer (JLV) in Research: Day to Day Uses
Explores advanced uses of JLV to uncover clinical data. Applications for Joint Longitudinal Viewer (JLV) in Research: Introduction for an introduction to JLV.
JLV, EHR Amber Lane
Reese Omizo
7/10/2023 Applications for Joint Longitudinal Viewer (JLV) in Research: Introduction
Describes what is needed to begin using JLV for research, including an interactive presentation on setting up a JLV workspace for basic research tasks
JLV, EHR Amber Lane
Reese Omizo
3/15/2021 Joint Longitudinal Viewer (JLV) and Research Part 2: A Deeper Look
An interactive presentation covering basic use of JLV in the research setting, common use cases, optimizing EHR search and workspaces, and troubleshooting JLV issues. Includes a live demonstration and Q&A session.
JLV, EHR Amber Lane
Reese Omizo
3/1/2021 Joint Longitudinal Viewer (JLV) and Research, Part 1: Getting Started
An interactive presentation covering basic use of JLV in the research setting, common use cases, optimizing EHR search and workspaces, and troubleshooting JLV issues. Includes a live demonstration and Q&A session.
JLV, EHR Ambe Lane
Reese Omizo
6/4/2018 Working with EHR Data Using VistAWeb, VINCI ChartReview Tool, and Joint Legacy Viewer
Describes EHR data and chart review methods, identifies strategies and considerations for conducting chart review, and discusses available tools to support chart review activities.
EHR Daniel Denhalter
Susan Hastings
Elizabeth Mahanna
7/10/2017 Chart Review Using National EHR Tools
Explains benefits of conducting chart review, presents research studies that used chart review methodology, and describes steps for developing a chart review manual. Compares VA tools for accessing EHR data and provides resources related to the VA’s transition to JLV.
EHR Linda Williams

GECDAC RHF

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
1/9/2023 Geriatrics and Extended Care Data Analysis Center Residential History File (GECDAC RHF)
Presents details of the database system structure, the business rules developed to create it, and some applications using it along with useful SAS coding.
Geriatrics & Extended Care, RHF Orna Intrator
Rajesh Makineni

Laboratory & Pharmacy Data

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
5/1/2023 An Introduction to VA Pharmacy Data: Sources and Uses for Medication Information
Explores the content and structure of pharmacy datasets in the VA.
Pharmacy
Datasets
Timothy Anderson
Bonnie Paris
5/3/2021 An Introduction to VA Pharmacy Data: Sources and Uses for Medication Information
Explores the content and structure of pharmacy datasets in the VA.
Pharmacy
Datasets
Joshua Thorpe
Bonnie Paris
6/3/2019 Diagnoses, Labs, and Meds, Oh My! Using CDW to Define a Study Cohort by Multiple Criteria
Demonstrates how to identify studssssy cohort based on occurrence of condition-relevant ICD-9/10 codes, utilization of condition-relevant medication, and condition-relevant lab results.
CDW
Lab Data
Peter Richardson
Kathryn Royse
7/9/2018 Phenotyping Physiologic Measurement of Lung Function in the VA EHR Using Automated Tools
Describes the challenges to extracting pulmonary function test (PFT) data from large EHR-based data sources, and the benefits and limitations of automatic tools that extract PFT values from the EHR.
Phenotyping, EHR Kathleen Akgün
5/7/2018 Pharmacoepidemiological Designs: Using CDW Lab Data and Drug Data for Effectiveness Research
Provides overview of laboratory data in the CDW and reviews how to find drug information, including date of fill, number of pills per day, strength of pill, refill data, and exposure window.
CDW,
Lab Data, Pharmacy Data
Adriana Hung
9/11/2017 Using CDW Microbiology and Pharmacy Data in Outcomes Research
Introduces microbiology- and pharmacy-related domains in CDW, describes data limitations, and shares samples of how specific data elements can be used for research questions.
CDW, Microbiology, Pharmacy Charlesnika Evans
Makoto Jones
5/2/2016 Clinical Epidemiology Research using National MCA and CDW Laboratory Data: Perspectives from the Frontline
Presents general description of MCA and CDW laboratory datasets, including strengths and limitations; reviews "best practices" of using VA laboratory data; discusses examples of recent clinical epidemiology research.
CDW,
Lab Data
Ziyad Al-Aly
Benjamin Bowe
Yan Xie
4/6/2015 Blood pressure measurements and their application for outcomes research in the CDW
Reviews blood pressure measurement variable in CDW, including location, file structure, ancillary variables, and availability; examines aspects of analyzing blood pressure; discusses VA studies examining blood pressure.
CDW,
Lab Data
Csaba Kovesdy

Medicare

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
10/10/2023 Overview of CMS & USRDS Data in the VHA
Provides technical information about using Medicare data in the VHA, including details of who is in the data, timeliness of data, and how to access the data after approval.
Medicare
Data
Veterans
Kristin de Groot
7/11/2023 Measuring Veterans' Medicare Health Services - Part 2
Provides technical information about using Medicare data in the VHA, including details of who is in the data, timeliness of data, and how to access the data after approval.
Medicare
Data
Veterans
Kristin de Groot
4/11/2023 Using Medicare Data in VA research: Part 1
Provides an overview of Medicare data available to VA researchers and describe how these data can be used to identify Veterans' use of health services paid by Medicare.
Medicare
Data
Veterans
Kristin de Groot
1/10/2023 Medicare Data in the OMOP Common Data Model
Describes the VA’s transformation of Medicare data into the OMOP common data model (CDM) and how the data in this format allows it to be more easily used with other instances of OMOP data in VA.
Medicare
Data
Veterans
Kristin de Groot
10/11/2022 Using Medicare data to study COVID-19 in Veterans
Provides an overview of Medicare data, statistics on the number of Veterans with COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 vaccines in the Medicare data, and examples of ways the Medicare data can be used to study COVID-19.
Medicare
Data
Veterans
Kristin de Groot
7/12/2022 Using Medicaid Data in VA Research
Provides a brief overview of the types of data produced by CMS, its availability in the VHA, and Veterans' enrollment in Medicaid and their healthcare utilization paid by Medicaid.
Medicare
Data
Veterans
Kristin de Groot

Mental Health

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
9/12/2016 A Practical Guide to Using the CDW Mental Health Domain
Introduces CDW Mental Health domain and data elements available, provides examples of how specific data elements, such as the AUDIT-C and BAM, have been used in research, and addresses potential limitations of these data.
CDW,
Mental Health
Eric Hawkins
Carol Malte

Outpatient

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
2/6/2017

Assessing Outpatient Utilization with VA Data
Introduces two primary sources of VA outpatient utilization data, MedSAS and CDW. Discusses how clinical and administrative outpatient data has been used in retrospective cohort studies.

CDW,Outpatient Denise Hynes

Phenomics

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
6/5/2023

Centralized Interactive Phenomics Resource (CIPHER): Overview and Demonstration of the VA Phenomics Library
Provides an overview and updates from CIPHER, the VA Phenomics Library. CIPHER is a catalog and knowledge-sharing platform of electronic health record (EHR) based phenomics metadata and annotations that aims to optimize Veterans' health data, drive collaborative research and improve clinical operations.

CIPHER, EHR, Phenomics Kelly Cho
Jacqueline Honerlaw

Race/Ethnicity

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
4/3/2023 Assessing Race and Ethnicity in VA Data
Describes how to locate race and ethnicity data and assess its quality in VA and Medicare.
Race,Medicare Maria Mor

USVETS

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
5/6/2019 United States Veterans Eligibility Trends and Statistics: A New Data Source with Socioeconomic Variables
Introduces USVETS database including addressing its accuracy, completeness, consistency, validity, and timeliness; defines available socioeconomic data; and describes process to obtain access to USVETS.
USVETS Ankur Bhargava
George Hauser

VA REDCap

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
3/5/2018 VA REDCap 101
Describes benefits and limitations of VA REDCap, reviews basic and advanced features of VA REDCap, and provides additional resources for training and support.
VA REDCap, Primary Data Collection Bonnie Paris

VHA SCIDR

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
2/6/2023 Overview of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration Spinal Cord Injuries & Disorders Registry (VHA SCIDR)
Introduces the VHA SCIDR as the SCI/D population case-identification platform and how to connect the data set to all Veterans' VHA healthcare data.
Spinal Cord Injuries & Disorders Jennifer Sippel
Adam Eberhart
Bridget Smith

Vital Status/Mortality

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
3/6/2023 VHA Death Ascertainment File (DAF) and Other Data Sources for Mortality Ascertainment
Describes the new VHA Death Ascertainment File and summarize other sources available for death ascertainment.
Mortality, VSF, Vital Status Noreen Arnold
6/27/2022 New VHA Vital Status File
Introduces the new VHA Death Ascertainment File (DAF) which replaces the current VHA Vital Status File (VSF).
Mortality, VSF, Vital Status Noreen Arnold
3/7/2022 Ascertaining Veterans’ Vital Status: Data Sources for Mortality Ascertainment and Cause of Death
Identifies data sources for Veteran vital status ascertainment and describes the strengths and limitations of these data sources for mortality ascertainment
Mortality, VSF, Vital Status Charles Maynard
6/7/2021 Ascertaining Veterans’ Vital Status: Data Sources for Mortality Ascertainment and Cause of Death
Describe the components of the VA Vital Status Files and how they can be used for research purposes. Also discusses other death databases such as the National Death Index and state death certificates.
Mortality, NDI, Vital Status Charles Maynard

Weight Data

Date Title Key Topic(s) Presenter(s)
4/6/2020 WEIGHT WEIGHT…DO TELL ME!: Comparing algorithms to process and clean CDW weight data
Compares algorithms identified from a systematic literature review used to process and clean administrative (CDW) weight data, leading to practical recommendations.
CDW,
Weight Data
Jennifer Burns
Laura Damschroder
Richard Evans
Wyndy Wiitala