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Harnessing big data with information governance

February 17, 2017
Health IT
From the January 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
• Patients decide how to share or distribute the data to health care providers and others. The Internet of Things (IoT) is another important concept in understanding how data is being generated. It refers to the network of devices that are embedded with electronics and network connectivity, making the collection and exchange of data fluid. The IoT will allow a broader range of health care monitoring and care by allowing patients to communicate health information via these technologies. Examples include blood pressure monitors, glucose monitors, activity trackers and even motion sensors in the homes of seniors.

The social determinants of health (SDOH) are further critical components of data generation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the social determinants of health are the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. By understanding the SDOH, professionals can help predict and treat health concerns of their patients. The CDC breaks SDOH into conditions, and environment and settings. Conditions can include social, economic and physical states. Environments and settings include data about places such as school, church, the workplace and one’s neighborhood.

There are many sources for SDOH, including chronic disease indicators, community health status indicators, health indicators warehouse, among others. SDOH can be captured simply through employer annual health screening surveys that ask questions about lifestyle practices such as the use of seat belts and sunscreen, amount of sleep, smoking and alcohol use, etc. All of these types of data come to us in many different ways and formats. To ensure that data can be converted to information for making critical patient care decisions, it must be trustworthy and governed in a consistent way.

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Information governance will guarantee that data inventories, data definitions, data mapping, data storage, data protection, data quality and data monitoring are ingrained in the culture of the health care organization. IG ensures a more agile organization that can quickly accept data from the many resources available today and in the future. IG will ensure that the resulting information is trustworthy for making good patient care and business decisions.

About the author: Ann Meehan, RHIA, is the director, Information Governance, AHIMA IGAdvisors.

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