Year: 2022 Source: Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. (2022). Published 5 April 2022. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001527 SIEC No: 20220513

The linking of surveillance data sets has increasingly become an essential public health activity. We compared a traditional method in North Carolina (NC) with a newer collaborative approach when linking Hospital Discharge Data (HDD) and NC Violent Death Reporting System (NC-VDRS) data. We found the collaborative approach to be superior, enabling wider ownership combined with subject matter expertise the traditional method lacked. We used Link Plus and Match*Pro software for linkage, which had similar matching results. However, the collaborative process using Match*Pro resulted in fewer matches requiring review and enabled better case adjudication and collaboration between partners. Of the 1361 unique suicides that matched to HDD, 44% (n = 599) had multiple prior hospitalizations. Public health needs to innovate and enable partners to foster solutions when traditional methods are dated and result in less reliable data. The process outlined builds consensus, increases trust, and ultimately saves time.