Four-point checklist for understanding data governance in healthcare
Patient data is extremely sensitive and confidential, so whether it is in paper or digital format, there needs to be strict levels of security and privacy measures around storing, accessing and sharing it. In this article, we take a look at some common FAQs around data governance and what it means in healthcare.
1. Defining data governance in healthcare
Generally speaking, ‘data governance’ refers to the process of managing data, which allows organisations to securely collect, access and analyse that information. But in healthcare, there’s a far even deeper level of sensitivity when it comes to data governance.
This is because health data consists of patient’s personal and health information, as well as financial data. From the moment a patient’s information is first entered in the system until well after they are discharged. The data lifecycle includes things like treatment plans, care plans, payments, research, outcomes improvement, and government reporting.
2. Why data governance in healthcare is important
If a medical practice does not care about the state of its data, how it is managed or controlled, then it risks jeopardising patient privacy and confidentiality, and face serious legal and regulatory repercussions.
So when it comes to healthcare, what the data means, whether it is used in the correct manner in the correct place, how it is being collected, and whether it is healthy – are all core practice prerogatives.
3. Identifying who is responsible for data governance
According to a report, Practical Steps to Enterprise Data Governance, as the concept of data governance becomes more widely accepted, so has the understanding of the need for ‘data stewardship’. It stressed how everyone needs to embrace the role of a data steward.
This means that when it comes to your role in your practice, if you collect, update, modify, delete, move, store, or utilise any data, you are accountable for the best data practices possible.
“Collective accountability, in making sure the data is entered right the first time, is an important tactic to ensure that the data that is being produced promotes quality and consistency,” the article stated. “In addition, data stewardship by all helps in avoiding any rework that may be necessary down the road.”
- Be on top of the latest Privacy laws and regulations
- Be familiar with the new GDPR and how it could apply to healthcare
- Seek legal advice is you are concerned about data governance in healthcare
4. Resources available to understand more
The topic of data governance is extremely broad, and its repercussions in healthcare run both wide and deep. Here are some additional resources to understand data governance within the health ecosystem:
- PWC report on health data governance and health records
- Office of the Australian Information Commissioner & Privacy Commissioner investigation into MBS data sets
- Productivity Commission data availability & use report
- RACGP guide on managing practice information