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Healthcare data quality relies on interoperability

The healthcare industry is currently undergoing a massive reform in which doctors are being asked to rely on electronic health records (EHRs), and the data quality of notes and patient histories, to make the best decisions about patients' care plans. The transition holds great promise, as new technology is expected to cut cost in the long run while also reducing errors (which often stem from doctors' hurried handwriting) in the short term.

However, these advantages may not be achieved if doctors don't have good data quality. It's currently hard to assess the data quality of patients' records because the information is locked away, Richard Cramer, recently said when he testified before the Health I.T. Policy Committee workgroup, as reported by IT Business Edge writer Loraine Lawson.

Cramer told the committee that unless physicians work toward interoperability in their meaningful use plans and free up their data, it will be difficult to effectively determine if data quality is good or bad, Lawson writers

"Done right, a data quality program doesn't end but gathers momentum," Cramer told the group. "Having the governance, stewardship and tools that enable a continuous process of profiling data, monitoring quality and resolving discrepancies is an essential component of addressing the current and future challenge."

Discussing the ideas Cramer presented, Lawson explains that we might have a better handle on healthcare data quality in the next few years as participants move ahead with health IT.