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About Tracker

Tracker is a scheduling and data collection system maintained by the WVU Institute for Community and Rural Health (ICRH). Tailored to each type of user, Tracker provides custom tools targeted to specific user needs and can evolve with changing program, research and reporting needs. A one-of-a-kind system with a 27 year history, Tracker is powerful tool containing years of data covering a range of outreach and educational activities crisscrossing the state of West Virginia.

Available to all colleges and universities in West Virginia, Tracker provides tools for scheduling rural and community-based housing for students who, as part of their curriculum, travel away from their home campuses to learn and serve throughout West Virginia. In addition, universities from surrounding states may also request access to housing via Tracker. Tracker's tools include interfaces to request, approve/deny, verify, and initiate billing for housing. These tools serve campus users, housing managers, financial services personnel and grant evaluators who manage a West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) grant that partially funds rural housing.

Serving West Virginia University, Tracker collects data about students’ rural and community-based rotations for health professions programs at the WVU Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center. This data allows the Institute to report outreach by WVU students throughout the state. This de-identified data is analyzed and reported to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission yearly.

In addition to its use by all West Virginia colleges and universities in general and the WVU Health Sciences Center in particular, Tracker is also integral to the success of the West Virginia Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program. This program is funded by a federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant and has a heavy yearly reporting requirement. In service to the WV AHEC HRSA grant, Tracker provides customized tools for the statewide network of AHEC staff to facilitate data collection and reporting on rural outreach activities such as community service, continuing education, interprofessional activities, and grades 9-12 outreach among others.

AHEC grant evaluators have a range of custom tools that simplify data collection, review, verification, and analysis. Additionally, Tracker provides tools to collate data and generate HRSA data tables for the annual progress report. This is one of the most time-saving features, freeing grant administrators to focus on content and accuracy instead of manually collating data from general reports or data visualization tools.

In addition to data collection and reporting duties, Tracker is also a research tool. The repository for rotation and student evaluation responses is unique in consideration of the 20-year timespan covered. (IRB protocol #20257.) This data has been used to produce scholarly articles relating to rural practice determinants, "Predicting Rural Practice and Service to Indigent Patients: Survey of Dental Students Before and After Rural Community Rotations" published in the Journal of Dental Education, May 2016. The data has also been used to assess validity of questionnaire data in "Validity of Medical Student Questionnaire Data in Prediction of Rural Practice Choice and Its Association With Service Orientation" published in The Journal of Rural Health, May 2015.

Tracker's History

Tracker was first created in 1997 as part of the West Virginia Rural Health Initiative (RHI) in partnership with Marshall University and the WV School of Osteopathic Medicine. The original architect of the early Tracker system was Mike McCarthy, now Chief Information Officer at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University. Since 2006, Rose McCluskey has been the chief architect and lead engineer for the Tracker system working with the support of WVU HSC I.T. Services.