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Healthcare could suffer from poor data quality

Rachel Wheeler Archive

A growing number of healthcare providers are investing in, and using, electronic health records (EHR) systems to streamline documentation. This has vast potential to reduce errors caused by illegible handwriting, drive down the cost of care and increase efficiency. However, these advantages can be compromised - and patient care can suffer - if doctors do not put measures in place to maintain data quality, according to a Columbia University study that was recently published in the Journal of the Medical Informatics Association.

"EHRs have incredibly valuable information in them, and clinicians use them successfully to treat patients," Dr. George Hripcsak, a professor of biomedical informatics at Columbia and one of the report's authors, told the source. "Nevertheless, if they are used naively for research, they may produce distorted results."

Common shortfalls that can lead to less accurate decision making include incorrect data entry or incomplete entries where information is missing, the study found.

If users can overcome database management problems, they can potentially increase workflow efficiencies, collaborate easily with other practitioners and make better clinical care decisions based on data that's been collected and analyzed, according to a report by Frost & Sullivan.