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Medical organizations must prepare for governance

Richard Jones Archive
Simply having important data lying around in computer systems is irresponsible on the part of companies, and there are laws to make sure firms behave properly. Governance programs are designed to help companies comply with requirements and keep information in a manner acceptable in their industries.

Medical providers are especially bound by these requirements, dealing with so much sensitive patient data. According to Advance contributor Sandra Kersten, the recent American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) conference contained several important viewpoints on the care of health data.

Healthcare data in focus
According to Kersten, healthcare providers are riding the wave of increased data volume and variety, poised to use information to increase the general health of their patient populations, as well as boost engagement and strengthen their financial positions. Kersten stated that software firm health ambassador Lorraine Fernandes specified that data quality is especially important as U.S. caregiving organizations focus more on using their data. Basing processes on information with serious flaws could harm coverage instead of helping it.

Kersten stated that another presenter at the conference, Linda Kloss laid out a general set of governance guidelines to help providers become more adept in their data usage. She explained that the first year involves creating a strategic plan at a meeting of leading executives. The second year involves more detailed tactics and the third is focused on training.

Kloss also noted, according to Kersten, that general efforts to reform healthcare are likely to help improved governance take hold. She stated that data and good care go together, with providers that harness their information correctly able to define success more clearly than is currently possible, shooting for new and admirable goals in the effort to promote health.

Challenges remain
Healthcare data quality is not universally positive at the moment. Researchers have recently found data that indicates there is significant work to be done. A report by the Loma Linda University Medical Center's Steven Green indicated that some of the widely disseminated operating room information used by physicians may have flaws.

Green noted that, when observers break down the condition listings of patients admitted to emergency wards, the data matches up in improbable ways. The findings seem consistent with poor recording of information. That data then filters out to a wide variety of organizations, meaning that problems at the lowest levels could be sowing confusion at many different hospitals.