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A good data cleanse can clean up some healthcare practices

Rachel Wheeler Archive
Having good data quality is important across a number of industries, but especially when it comes to healthcare. As physicians work to keep up with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, they are being pressed to adopt electronic health records (EHR) systems that can reduce human errors and help doctors extract valuable patient information.

However, providers need to understand that data sets require regular maintenance to ensure they are achieving the expected goals. A good data cleanse, which verifies accurate information and identifies bad sets, can help healthcare facilities improve billing processes, avoid mistakes and reduce operating expenses.

Improve billing processes

Healthcare providers' main goal is to offer quality care, but this may not be possible if they are not operating profitable businesses. The billing process is an essential part of practices' continuity, and it can become jeopardized if there are problems with patient data, according to Pulse. Data cleansing can seem like an arduous task, but it can help keep the billing pipeline clean, so doctors don't later realize much of their income has been stopped up by incorrect names, old addresses and expired insurance information.

A good cleanse can help facilities clear out the names of patients who have either stopped seeking treatment from the provider, moved away or are deceased, the source explains.

Avoid embarrassing mistakes

If hospitals and practices don't perform this basic upkeep measure often enough, they could run into embarrassing mistakes, such as the one that was recently made by London's Local Medical Communities (LMCs), Pulse adds in a separate article. The facilities launched a large-scale effort to rid their data of those "ghost patients," after discovering there was a larger list of registered patients than the local population.

However, the cleansing effort was called off after census data revealed the population was actually surging, and the facilities had been wiping away information from some of the area's most vulnerable patients, the source adds.

Cut back on unnecessary costs

In addition to billing processes and patient registries, good data quality can help healthcare providers eliminate unnecessary costs, according to Healthcare Finance News. Many hospitals currently use databases that do not offer helpful insight into the supply chain, so managers are working with mismatched, incomplete or missing information about the items they have on hand and those that have been ordered.