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Data Collection Nurse: What's Up With That?

Nurses Article   (2,803 Views 3 Comments)
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In this article the author details a conversation with a Data Collection Nurse and shares what that job looks like.

Data Collection Nurse: What's Up With That?

As my friend, Julie, and I settled into a booth at a local coffee shop with our steaming brews, we chatted about our work. She told me about her contract work as a Data Collection Nurse. "The best part is the flexibility and the fact that I can leave my work at work," she said. "For this time in my life, it's the right fit."

What kind of training and experience did you have in nursing before you got this job?

I have a BSN but they will hire ADs or RNs for this work, as well. I have been in nursing a long time and some of my experience includes: ER, ICU, Med Surg, Dialysis, Nursing Administration, Insurance Case Management, Utilization Review, and Private Duty.

Where do you work when you do Data Collection?

I go to the insurance company's office (they pay mileage from home) or sometimes I am in doctor's offices working with their EMRs there. It's important for people to know how confidential everything is-it is really a priority concern all the time. The patient's information is always secure and that is at the forefront of what is important to insurance companies.

There can be some travel involved since the insurance company's office is not always close by.

So what is the nitty gritty of Chart Review and Data Collection?

Our work is to examine charts for compliance with national standards. If the office is in compliance, then they are eligible for incentive pay from insurance companies. In other words, the measures are supposed to show that the patient is getting the are they are eligible to get.

We look at multiple charts, often randomly selected. For example, we might gather all the charts of people who have diabetes and then look through them to see the latest A1C and urine testing. Or we might pull the charts of everyone with diabetes and hypertension, measuring more than on quality standard at a time. Another example is when we look at adolescent weight management and check the charts for BMI. We might also look at the care of the elderly and examine transitional care parameters. We work with HEDIS which is: "The Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) is a tool used by more than 90 percent of America's health plans to measure performance on important dimensions of care and service. Altogether, HEDIS consists of 94 measures across 7 domains of care." (HEDIS & Quality Measurement)

Why do insurance companies want this information?

Data collection for ensuring quality care through quality measures is a pretty recent event. Providers are now required to maintain records (often by using EMRs) that can allow insurance companies to try to follow up on whether or not the patients they insure are getting excellent care. So my job is to go into the chart and figure out and count compliance with the standards. Providers receive incentive pay for meeting the stated standards.

How did you get started doing Data Collection?

I was at the point in my life and in my family's life where I needed more flexibility. We still needed some income from my work but I could not work the regular nursing shift work at that time. I saw an advertisement for a temp agency that was hiring for this work. The pay and the hours immediately attracted my attention. I started out working 3 months out of the year, but I have extended that over time.

I also have open folders on Career Builder and indeed.com. Now that I have so much experience, I get calls asking me for more contract work. It's been a good fit with our lives.

What would you say are some drawbacks of this type of work?

  • It's not full time
  • I work through a temp agency
  • There are no benefits
  • It's not a social job; I often work alone
  • It can be tedious
  • There are not a lot of new challenges daily
  • Independent (This can be on the "good" list and on the "bad" list)
  • Some phone work is involved, coordinating with doctor's offices and getting information as needed

What are some things that you appreciate about this work?

  • It pays well
  • It's flexible
  • It's temporary
  • I can leave my work at work
  • I feel like I make a difference, helping to ensure that patients get the care they are supposed to get
  • I like the autonomy. This job is very much for a self-starter and a person who can see the job through independently. You really have to be a self-manager
  • The job is not difficult and it does have its rewards

As we finished up our coffee, we agreed that while Data Collection is not for everyone, it can be just the right fit for some nurses at particular times in their careers.


Joy has been a nurse for 35 years, practicing in a variety of settings. Currently, she is a Faith Community Nurse. She enjoys her grandchildren, cooking for crowds and taking long walks.

14 Likes, 4 Followers, 81 Articles, 144,544 Visitors, and 358 Posts.

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I don't think this type of work would be for me. However, I have a LVN friend that is about as specific and detail oriented as they come. Seems like that is what would be needed in this type of review. She has about 20 years experience in skilled nursing units and several years in home health including being a clinical coordinator. Is there any possibility of LVN's working in this area? Maybe reviewing files for nursing homes, etc.?

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