Data Integration: Going with the Flow

November 9th, 2012 / By Jill Devrick

Just as the flame of a small candle, if mishandled, can go from beautiful to a disaster very quickly, the information we share as we go about our daily lives has the potential to be of great help, but also great harm if not handled correctly.

These days, data is shared everywhere in health care organizations.  Patient and provider data flows in and out of transcription as documents are created.  From the transcription system to the EHR and other clinical repositories, the patient’s record is available for further care, coding, billing, research, and so on.  Integration is wonderful when it works well.

When patient information is shared with those who need it, its availability creates opportunities for more consistency, accuracy, specificity, and efficiency.  However, those benefits assume that the data being shared is of the best quality and that the interfaces between systems fully support the flow of data between them.  Assumptions can be dangerous, especially when patient care is at stake, so you must evaluate and monitor the connections between systems to ensure that your organization is doing all it can to protect the integrity of the information being shared.

I have observed five basic areas of concern with data integration that you should assess and address in your organization on a regular basis:  security, completeness, accuracy, consistency, and archival.  In my next series of posts, I will discuss each of these aspects of integration.

Jill Devrick is a Product Solutions Advisor with 3M Health Information Systems.