Saving lives: what if data governance sounded like this? 

Does your organisation trust its data and information enough to base critical decisions on it?

Access to timely and quality information is crucial for any organisation to make good decisions. In a clinical setting, where decisions can positively or adversely impact a patient’s health, it’s critical. With the digitisation of our hospitals and health services, trust in the data generated by different departments, services and systems is key to better healthcare decisions.

Unfortunately, research from the US and anecdotally what we’re hearing in Australia, suggests that despite the increased availability of clinical information through shared electronic health records, the benefits aren’t always realised due to a lack of trust in data authored elsewhere. A scenario unlikely to change until trust is built.

Having access to recent pathology tests, for example, reduces the needs to repeat tests – an outcome of benefit to both patient and practitioner. Yet for this to occur, the treating clinician must have confidence in the information on record and building trust in other people’s data requires a significant behaviour change.

The circle of trust

In a rapidly changing landscape, the need to establish confidence and trust spans the entire ecosystem.

Healthcare providers must be able to trust the information enough to base treatment decisions on it. Assurance is needed around the data’s integrity; that the right information sits with the right patient, is up-to-date and has been entered correctly.

Patients and consumers need to trust that only the right people have access to their most personal information, it remains properly protected and is used only as they would expect – for healthcare provision.

Senior executives need to trust that financial and operational data will help them make informed and evidence-based decisions.

How data governance can help

Let’s face it, data governance isn’t sexy, however it’s core to getting digital transformation right.

It’s hard to achieve quality information without robust governance in place to control the input, management, sharing and use of data.

Facts worth knowing

Don’t be fooled into generic ‘off the shelf’ frameworks. For data governance to be truly effective, it must be tailored to your organisation’s structure, various functions and needs.

Not all data needs governing. Assess the value and risk,and prioritise your efforts accordingly. Healthcare information comes with high privacy requirements and therefore high risk, but website analytics, for example, may not.

Consult those who best know what others need to know. In building a framework, seek input and guidance from the coal face. In the case of clinical data for example, doctors, nurses and allied health professionals are well placed to determine the context for presenting information to other practitioners and administrative staff in a way that fosters understanding and ultimately, builds trust.

Data governance enables strategy. When mobilised correctly data governance can help turn strategy into tangible outcomes.

Reduce risk. We’ve all seen what can happen when data goes wrong. Central to meeting regulatory, compliance and legal requirements is a robust framework and operating model that is supported by appropriate policies and procedures.

Gain competitive advantage. Consumers are looking to do business with businesses that do good. Beyond building trust in the data, businesses looking to take the lead will invest not only in governance but in a supporting ethical framework that guides how data is collected and used.

In summary, don’t neglect your data governance efforts. Unlike other areas of digital transformation, it may not be ‘trending’, but this humble health hero is critical to building trust, better decision making and improved patient care. It should not be overlooked. 

Liz Jones Associate Director