Data integrity is more important than ever!

March 30th, 2020 / By Cheryl Manchenton, RN

Like many of you, I am bunkered down at home with my family. Normally I try to fill my blogs with a bit of humor but instead, like others, I am taking a different tone these days. I send you all my thoughts and prayers that we will get through this pandemic as unscathed as possible.

 I am constantly scrounging scientific- and medical-based literature for facts about COVID-19. What is most striking in my opinion is the large amount of unknown information. Many of us may not be on the front lines of treating our community, but those of us in the HIM, CDI and Quality professions do have an important task: maintaining data integrity.

We need a robust set of coded data for our researchers for multiple reasons. First, to get a better clinical understanding of this disease and all of its manifestations. It would be easier to code the minimum data set, especially if we are overwhelmed with claims to process, but without the full list of both acute manifestations and sequelae as well as chronic conditions, it will be more difficult to determine the full extent of this disease and identify who will need higher levels of care and/or screening.

Second, there’s recognition that we have and will exceed our bed capacity, PPE capacity and ventilator capacity. We need a robust set of data so we can provide information for future pandemic preparation.

So, I call on all my colleagues to slow down a little. CDI staff and leaders: Let us work on quality versus quantity metrics; fully review your cases and query (please be sensitive to the query volume). Providers: I know you are exhausted in direct care activity, but your ask to be better prepared can only be achieved with cold hard data. Coding professionals and your leadership: Again, quality over quantity. Revenue cycle leaders and hospital administrators: Your organization cannot be better prepared for the future without appropriate reflection of your population today. Suspend benchmarks for performance until this crisis has passed.

This is a time for our community to shine in the background and make our contributions count.

Cheryl Manchenton is a senior inpatient consultant and project manager for 3M Health Information Systems.

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During a pandemic, healthcare information is gathered, studied, and published rapidly by scientists, epidemiologists and public health experts without the usual processes of review. Our understanding is rapidly evolving and what we understand today will change over time. Definitive studies will be published long after the fact. 3M Inside Angle bloggers share our thoughts and expertise based on currently available information.