Improving Clinical Data Quality

Health care will begin to shift the use of electronic clinical quality measures and the recording and subsequent use of clinical data. If a new system can be streamlined enough, it is possible that an organization would be able to achieve high clinical data quality The high quality of data collected will be worth the effort of a new electronic system, and it is possible that the data collected will be more accurate in the long run. In the past, the collection of medical data from patients was considered siloed or stored in separate databases that couldn’t be accessed by outside personnel.

Clinical Data on Repeat

A daunting task falls in the realm of mandated reporting. The state may need one set of data, the federal government may need another set of data, and the healthcare organizations may need another set of data. Perhaps a lot of this data is repeated, but must be filled out several times; some of it will be specific to the organization the report is for. Each of these systems and more was intended to check, evaluate and hopefully ensure the quality of the overall healthcare data. One of the real outcomes is health care providers were in a bureaucracy of reports with good intentions, but insufferable mountains of paper with a lot of overlapping data, some unique data collected, and, perhaps not entirely surprisingly, some inconsistent data with poor clinical data quality.

There are some pieces of data that might, at first consideration be difficult to not align. However, the truth is that when the reality of health care and the way it must be administered is considered, then inconsistencies were a natural byproduct, although that does not make the inconsistencies easier to evaluate.

Is the Electronic Route the Answer for Clinical Data Quality?

There may not be a clear solution to these kinds of problems, but hopefully using electronic data records and removing the barriers to accessing information will make those inconsistencies easier to eliminate. The more accurate the information is upon input, the better care the patient is able to receive.

There are considerations healthcare organizations should keep in mind when they institute Electronic Health Records (EHR) so data can be collected efficiently and hopefully only once. At the same time, EHR’s should have valuable data about the patient so intelligent and thoughtful decisions can be made regarding treatment.

In a study by The Commonwealth Fund, there were some common criteria hospitals and other healthcare providers should include when selecting a new EHR:

  • Choose the system that had the best potential to integrate its use with outpatient care
  • Contracted technical support during the transition and after the transition is important to the people who are required to input the clinical data understand how to maneuver and correctly enter data
  • The ability to customize the program. Internal data collection or taking part in a study means that health care providers are often collection data not required by state or federal governments. The ability to customize the data collection, even for a brief while makes the EHR more efficient and effective
  • Find or create a program that inputs data across different fields so the medical professional won’t be required to input information multiple times

The Fight for Accurate and Timely Data

The ability to communicate and connect with outpatient services is important to doctors in choosing the optimal treatment. A person who comes to the hospital in an unconscious or disoriented condition may not be able to communicate a new medicine they are taking, which could be the culprit as to why they are ill. An important history of a patient would also be available in a chart at the fingertip of the person providing treatment making decisions more intelligent and safer.

Technical support allows doctors and nurses to turn to someone in a real situation and ask how to navigate, or where a field they need to fill out is located. This is also an effective way to ensure that everything that needs to be included is there for the health professionals to use. The techs won’t think of everything because much of the medical information is esoteric, but the medical professionals can ensure the required data fields are included.

More bureaucracy is the last thing any of us need. However, medical professionals could see that more bureaucracy, in this case, allows for an improved and streamlined process. This will make their jobs easier, improve clinical data quality, and the patients will have better care.

Clinical Data Reporting

To understand the reporting, it is necessary to understand what is being reported upon. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to track the quality of services being provided by physicians, hospitals, and other care facilities as a means of setting goals, and ultimately delivering high-quality care for everyone. Some of the areas that were tracked, according to the CMS website include:

  • Health Outcomes
  • Clinical Processes
  • Patient Safety
  • Efficient use of Healthcare Resources
  • Coordination of Care
  • Patient Engagement
  • Population Health
  • Public Health
  • Adherence to Guidelines