II. Standards and Suggested Practices
G. Data submission
Data submission is the process of reporting CTR data from the health department to CDC. This process varies, depending on the data entry and reporting mechanism used at your health department. As illustrated in Figure 11, these mechanisms include PEMS, scanning, or the health department’s own data management system (XPEMS). Health departments that use PEMS set submission parameters and permissions with CDC to automatically submit data. Health departments that use scanning or XPEMS should submit an electronic data file to CDC according to the specified requirements. These processes comprise four main steps:
- Generating an XML data extract/export file
- Running CDC-provided XML validation check
- Encrypting the file by using CDC-approved software
- Sending the encrypted file to CDC via the SDN
For health departments that use scanning, CDC developed a data tool application that includes a “Transfer Data to CDC” function. This function extracts (in XML format) the CDC-required data from the new HIV Test Form.
Once the CTR XML file has been submitted to CDC, key variables are validated to make sure that the XML format is correct. Key variables are also checked for missing data and invalid values. To ensure that the information meets the minimum standards of quality, CDC will distribute a QA report to each reporting area which includes the percentages of missing data and invalid values for CDC’s required variables for the specific jurisdiction.
Figure 11. CTR data submission
- CT XML File Validation (CDC)
Instructions designed for XPEMS sites using xpems.exe, a simple XML syntax and data validation tool which helps ensure that data conforms to CDC’s requirements; includes screenshots of different errors and reports.
Standard G1: Health departments should use secure mechanisms for submitting CTR data to CDC.
The term secure mechanisms refers to the processes and procedures to ensure that CTR data are protected from deletion, change, or exposure during the submission of data to CDC. These processes include file encryption and submission through SDN. CDC requires that files with sensitive information be encrypted, by using a product that meets federal standards before the data are electronically transmitted. The SDN environment provides a strong security control to exchange data between health departments and CDC, and it has the highest level of data security and confidentiality. This technology creates a Secure Sockets Layer or encrypted tunnel, through which data are transferred. To access the SDN, you must have a digital certificate and request permission to add the Program Evaluation Monitoring System activity.
- CDC unified process guide—SDN overview (CDC)
Guide to help project teams comply with CDC and federal requirements; describes five services offered by SDN: file transfer, application hosting, user enrollment, digital certificate management, and authentication and authorization.
- Using the secure data network to access PEMS program activities (CDC)
Specific information for using SDN, such as enrolling for, and installing, a digital certificate; accessing SDN and PEMS activities; and downloading information from CDC.
An electronic transfer file with the required CTR variables should be submitted to CDC within the specified timeframe. For example, Program Announcement 04012 requires grantees to submit their data within 45 days after the end of the quarter. Submitting your data in a timely manner will benefit both your health department and CDC in the following ways:
- Timely submission allows CDC to perform routine QA checks (i.e., missing data, invalid values) to identify specific QA issues related to your data. You will then be able to deal with the issue so that it will not affect data in the future. CDC is developing standard operating procedures for performing routine QA checks and providing you with prompt feedback.
- Health departments will ensure that CDC is accurately accounting for the CTR services provided in their jurisdiction. Delayed submissions may limit the time needed to resolve a data issue before the annual CDC close-out of the data. Unresolved submissions are not included in national reports or publications (e.g., CTR annual report).
Standard G3: Health departments should maintain a log of records submitted to CDC and records that require follow-up.
To ensure that all records submitted to CDC get processed, health departments should document data transfers and maintain a list of records that require follow-up. Simple data transfer and data QA logs can facilitate comparisons of the data submitted from the health department and the data received at CDC (Tables 5 and 6). CDC currently provides health departments with an initial data-validation report which assesses the completeness of a few key variables (e.g., agency ID, session date). This report will determine which records to accept or reject. Health department staff members are expected to follow up to resolve errors for records that have missing values and resubmit corrected records.
Table 5. Log of CTR records transferred to CDC—Georgia Health Department, 2009
|Transfer date||Due date||No. of records transferred|
Table 6. QA log of CTR records transferred to CDC—Georgia Health Department, 2009
|Form ID||QA type||Discrepancy||Resolution||Status||Comments|
|1234488789||Completeness||Missing test result||Negative test result||Completed||Called Hazzard County HD on 5/9/09|
|4567876521||Validity check||Sample date before session date||—||Pending||E-mailed service provider on 5/10/09|