Data Governance: Solutions Within Your Reach

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The healthcare landscape is evolving and data is at its core

Healthcare information systems have undergone tremendous advancements in the past two decades and the current pace is only accelerating. Medical institutions are now paying close attention to the ongoing digitization of traditional processes sweeping across the healthcare value chain. There is, in fact, growing pressure on decision-makers to upgrade conventional, paper-based workflows and manual processes in favour of fully integrated digital environments designed to provide cost-effectiveness, performance and sustainable results.

In healthcare, data is ubiquitous. It represents the ultimate leverage to help private and public healthcare institutions shift from resource-consuming legacy systems towards a new ideal state.  One where automation of manual processes, lean operating models and advanced analytics are organically embedded at the heart of an organization’s corporate governance and growth strategy. As healthcare’s use of curated data continues to mature, it’s imperative that health organizations shift to a new data-first culture that can lead them towards cost-effectiveness and value-adding opportunities. 

Making that shift will require focusing beyond the data

Developing a data culture is not easily achieved, yet healthcare institutions should actively seek to lead their organizations towards quality built-in processes and a positive outlook towards technology and innovation. By investing in a data-first mentality and outlining the synergy between technology and the benefits of centralizing an organization’s data sources, decision-makers are now able to increase operational efficiency, minimize downtime, avoid bottlenecks and ultimately move from a reactive state to a proactive one.

Technology is a fundamental building block to drive cost-effective operations in healthcare. While hospitals and health institutions’ relationships with digital assets should be seamless and ROI-focused, it’s unfortunately not always the case. When technology starts being employed as an end in and of itself, without a clear roadmap to frame its integration, it can easily become a distraction and consume precarious operational resources without providing any substantial added-value in return. 

The transition toward centralized healthcare data management requires strong leadership and a well-crafted change management roadmap in order to be carried out successfully and most of all, cost-effectively. To achieve a data-centred governance structure, change management initiatives need to be developed in parallel with technology and seek to create valuable synergies between data structure, process optimization and organizational culture. 

Centralized access to healthcare data: understanding the challenges

For hospitals and care institutions, transforming healthcare data into monetizable, value-adding assets does not come without its fair share of challenges. Just considering how to manage all the data and how to extract actionable value from it could become an overwhelming thought. Healthcare organizations are also required to transition towards a new data-driven mentality while at the same time, managing their data in ways that must ensure integrity, interoperability, and security as well as comply with policies & regulations in place. Not an easy task.

Challenge #1: Integrity & Quality

In healthcare, data obviously comes from a vast and heterogeneous number of sources with varying formats and labels. Since data collection and aggregation are relatively siloed within each healthcare institution, the overall process contributes to a highly fragmented data ecosystem, that makes extraction, integration and sharing of data a real challenge. Ensuring data integrity and quality for a care institution means guaranteeing the functionalities and effectiveness of a system that relies on accuracy to provide value. Incompleteness, invalidity, inaccuracy, duplication, non-standardization and meaningless data can have tremendous impacts on daily operations including inefficient schedules, erroneous pay-roll systems and suboptimal resource management. 

See also: Data quality: the key for integrated analytics (healthcareitnews.com)

Challenge #2: Interoperability

For data to be useful it needs to yield consistent results and to be easily shared and transferable amongst users, organizations, and systems to whom it can provide tangible benefits. However, data interoperability is not only a technical necessity focused on data consistency between different systems or organizations, it also depends heavily on a digital culture built on clearly drawn processes to successfully unify all parties willing to share information.

Unfortunately, to this day, very few care centers and hospitals have deployed the digital infrastructure necessary to extract value from external data sources or to integrate them organically within their internal data systems. The financial and reputational consequences associated with wrongful information disclosures or data breaches are dramatic and contribute to health organizations’ mitigated willingness to engage in data exchange and innovation outside of their own, tightly regulated digital environments. 

See also: 3 Ways Interoperability Can Improve Patient Care (healthtechmagazine.net)

Challenge #3: Security & Privacy

Data security remains obviously the number one priority for hospitals and health institutions, especially with the many reported breaches, hackings, and ransomware cases that make the news almost weekly. From phishing attacks to malware and laptops accidentally forgotten at cafes, healthcare data is subject to a nearly infinite array of vulnerabilities. 

Healthcare providers, therefore, seek to adopt and integrate the most reliable technology assets across their value chain to improve the secured delivery of care services to patients. To achieve this, they have to find a difficult equilibrium between the need to maintain secured data pipelines and the necessity to make them accessible and exploitable to generate value.

See also: The 5 Biggest Challenges Facing Healthcare Data Security Today (virtru.com) or 3 Methods for Minimizing Security Risks in Healthcare (healthtechmagazine.net)

Consequences of operating with legacy healthcare data systems and processes

Deriving value and insight from health data isn’t purely a matter of availability and consumption. High-quality data is a pivotal requirement in the migration toward value-based care and patient-centric services. While immensely powerful, data can easily become a double-edged sword when the information collected, stored and analyzed is inaccurate or incomplete. 

Today’s healthcare organizations need unprecedented clarity and reliability from their data to guarantee enhanced reporting and to transition away safely from basic descriptive analytics towards the realm of predictive insights. Poor data quality along with legacy systems can often cause problems throughout an organization that can impact everything from patient care to policy-level decision-making. 

The lack of real-time access to critical data for enhanced decision-making makes it harder for decision-makers to benchmark performance or operational data against industry gold standards. This situation, in turn, encourages reliance on historical data instead of real-time information and further leads to inconsistent procedures and backlogs that could have been avoided with a more streamlined approach.  

Proven technology solutions at your fingertips

As hospitals become more reliant on high-quality data, decision-makers will have to consider investing in automated, enterprise-grade technology solutions. They will also commit to using robust, best-in-class technology tools to facilitate fluid health data exchange and instill the foundations of a data-first culture at the heart of their organization. Advances in cloud computing, mobile technologies and machine learning will create an even greater need for new digital tools capable of swiftly aggregating data and extracting clinical, operational and patient-related insights that can be monetized. 

Hospitals and care institutions are now seeking to acquire digital capabilities to help contain costs efficiently, streamline their processes and become more patient-centric. This is why, for the past decade, here at Continuum Health we have focused on the development of advanced performance analytics solutions, cutting-edge data mining platforms and real-time interactive dashboards designed exclusively for the healthcare sector.

We help organizations build their analytics competency and harness “health data” to create actionable insights, set their future vision, improve clinical outcomes and reduce time to value. At Continuum Health, we are proud to lead in the development of next-generation health systems and are dedicated to making data governance and data centralization a reality through our cutting-edge technology solutions: our data warehouse ContinuumCore and our advanced analytics cloud platform, Intellium.

To learn more about our solutions, visit our solutions page today.

See also:
The 5 key benefits of healthcare interoperability (beckershospitalreview.com)
How to develop a data culture within your organisation (information-age.com)
10 Steps to Creating a Data-Driven Culture (hbr.org)

About The Author

Marie-Josée Letendre

Marie-Josée Letendre joined the Continuum Health team less than a year ago as a Product Specialist. Since she became a nurse in 2005, she has earned three certificates and a bachelor of Science from Université de Montréal in 2016. Her nursing career began at Charles-Le Moyne hospital, first in postoperative general surgery and then in hemodialysis. She also taught the Health, Assistance and Nursing (SASI) program to nursing assistants before joining the team at CSSS Lucille-Teasdale. Then, she moved on to the CISSSO de Gatineau and worked in ambulatory services at a local community service centre (CLSC), in inmate services, at the access desk and, finally, in public health. Marie-Josée is able to combine her two passions within our team: contributing to the implementation of high-performance healthcare solutions and travelling. Her suitcase is always packed!