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Site Visit Methodology

Site Selection

The Community Tracking Study site visits are conducted in the same 12 nationally representative communities approximately every two years. The 12 communities were randomly selected from among the large metropolitan areas (with population greater than 200,000) in the U.S. These sites were selected to reflect a representative cross-section of metropolitan health care markets around the country.


Researchers interview 40-100 stakeholders in each community (the number varies by size of the market and the particular site visit cycle). Researchers target an extensive group of organizations and individuals to interview, including the largest and most influential organizations or groups in the market, as well as those that are central to specific topic areas.

The sample includes representatives from health plans, hospitals, physician organizations, safety net providers, private and public employers, state and local government officials and consumer groups. To obtain a balanced view of the market, researchers ask respondents about their organization, the organizations they work with or compete against, and their perspectives on the market as a whole.


Maintaining confidentiality of these interviews is a high priority. HSC keeps the names of the respondents and the interview notes strictly confidential and will not release such information to others within or outside of the market. HSC does not attribute comments to specific individuals in our external reports and publications, and safeguards information that respondents identify as confidential.

Data Collection and Analysis

The site visit researchers use standardized interview protocols for each respondent type to ensure that data collected can be analyzed across organizations and communities. The protocols cover a wide range of topics to collect multiple stakeholder perspectives on any given issue. Questions are open-ended to not restrict respondents' answers.

The interview information is stored, coded and analyzed using Atlas.ti—a computer software program for qualitative data management and analysis. Output from the program allows researchers to develop their conclusions by identifying patterns of responses and comparing responses across organizations or sites.


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The Center for Studying Health System Change Ceased operation on Dec. 31, 2013.