Explaining Master Data Management: Definition, Threats, and Pathways

In healthcare industry, the goal of saving money has never been more pronounced as it has been lately. For this purpose, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have started to partake in the shared savings program. The benefits appear to outweigh the costs, albeit minimal savings for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, explains to Healthcare IT News. Part of the reason savings have not yet grown to the expectations of many officials rests with the significant investment requirements to reach a sustainable methodology for master data management.

Defining Master Data Management

Master data management refers to the clinical data acquired from a given healthcare setting, which may be used to generate solutions to possible problems and improve population health and accountability of the respective healthcare organization.

Master data can be broken into identity data and reference data. Once this data has been linked across multiple care settings, especially for ACOs, the data can be used to provide insight into the effectiveness of the healthcare organization. Essentially, master data management is combining different forms of data into a single, accessible resource.

Threats to Successful Master Data Management

Analytics are used extensively in healthcare data management for a variety of purposes, explains eHEALTH INITIATIVE. 69 percent of respondents in an eHEALTH INITIATIVE survey support the electronic health record (EHR) as a fundamental source of data. However, data management also involves the use of claims, administrative, financial, registry, and HRA-reported data. Furthermore, 32 percent of respondents reported using data from a health information exchange, such as those identified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Within the survey, respondents identified key threats to master data management. These threats include data integration and interoperability problems, change management, competition health IT companies, impact on workflow, and the cost of purchasing tools and software. The simplest solution seems to be purchasing entirely new systems and IT software; however, this approach is impractical.

Options For Ensuring Proper Master Data Management

Purchasing a new system (IT system consolidation) addresses many of the concerns of master data management. However, IT system consolidation includes significant financial investment to purchase the software and investment in the training and implementation of such software. For example, training existing staff to use a new software could easily rival the cost of other options.

Migrating data from existing platforms to a new platform is also another option. This capability is achieved by using a third-party tool to collect and store information. This option typically requires a larger investment than complete IT system consolidation due to the bulk of data processing required.

If a given healthcare entity uses an enterprise data warehouse, which is similar to the third-party tool, the organization can effectively collect, manage, and analyze data without significant investment. However, this option prevents analysis on a transactional level, i.e. individual treatment processes may be forgotten in the transcription of data between the originating server and the enterprise-level server.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” Sherlock Holmes, “A Study in Scarlett” --Arthur Conan Doyle

ACOs and Master Data Management

Since ACOs have a vested interest in ensuring better population health, master data management will continue to be an integral part of their operations. ACOs can use master data management to identify and adjust specific approaches to treatment, which will help guarantee quality-based reimbursement payments from the CMS.

Current population demands a shareable quality of data throughout the healthcare system. Effective mastery in data management is simply the process by which a given healthcare organization begins to consolidate and manage this clinical data. For some organizations, especially those receiving incentive payments from CMS, the sharing of data is essential to continued support. Sharing healthcare information will actually help improve treatment for patients by reducing the overall cost of care, reducing the time spent to research a patient, as well as eliminating factors such as repeat testings and inaccurate assessments. Fortunately, healthcare organizations have multiple options for overcoming the challenges in reaching the capacity to share information seamlessly, and as these options are put into practice, patients will see things such as:

  • Services provided more quickly
  • More accurate and personalized care
  • Less time wasted waiting, including communications back and forth with healthcare professionals
  • Better outcomes
  • Being more involved with their own care

For more information, or to understand better what master data management is all about and how important it is and will be for the healthcare industry, take the time to find out what your clinicians are doing to make this a part of their healthcare's organization.

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