What do you think of when you hear “Data Governance?” If you’re like a lot of people, the phrase brings to mind red tape and bureaucracy, a lot of time and effort, and an urge to run in the opposite direction. But data governance has evolved far beyond these old stereotypes. In reality, modern or ambient data governance safeguards an organization’s most critical data assets, ensuring not only that improper use is avoided, but that the data is used for its highest and best purpose. Of any industry, this concept is perhaps most critical to healthcare. After all, when could it be more important to get the most value out of data than when our health and very lives are at stake?
There are numerous examples of how data could be better leveraged across an entire organization, if only other departments or areas were aware of it. Too often, data is siloed within a single system or department. For example, pharmacy data and test results might be received from external sources, but if they remain in just one system or department (such as billing), they have limited value. As the use of AI becomes more prominent as a diagnostic tool, shouldn’t all relevant data be available for use in the algorithm? As data proliferates and the potential of data to positively impact patient health continues to increase, it also raises questions of patient rights, privacy and maintaining compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
Of course we’re all in favor of protecting patients’ rights and handling data in a manner that’s legally and ethically responsible, but organizations need a formal structure for doing so. Data governance can ensure that the most critical data is identified and available to produce real value for both patients and the organization, while also safeguarding patients’ rights in accordance with policies and regulations.
Not all data is created equal in healthcare, and by prioritizing those data assets that are most important to an organization, they can maximize returns, through analytics and operational improvements, and minimize risks, by ensuring compliance. By implementing ambient data governance, organizations ensure the following:
When the above steps have been followed to implement ambient data governance, critical data will be used in a manner that is not only legal and ethical, but a way that provides the highest possible value to the patient. If I were the patient, I know I would not only hope, but expect this to happen.
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