Trusting Healthcare Data

Healthcare is generating data at an unprecedented rate. EHR software is becoming a large repository of healthcare data. Patient portals are starting to get data from patients. Labs are creating large amounts of data. Insurance companies have been collecting and playing with data for years. We’re surrounded by healthcare data. The question is: How do we make sure they trust the data?

Anyone who has worked with an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) realizes what a challenge it is to make sure that the day you pull in from multiple systems can be trusted. It’s really hard to trust data that’s coming from a system that you don’t understand or use regularly. When you use the system regularly you have an idea of how it captures the data and the strengths and weaknesses of the data. When the data is in the EDW, you don’t often know those details.

With all of this said, the EDW is a walk in the park when it comes to trusting the data when you compare it to data coming from an outside source. One example is from an HIE, from the patient, or even from some patient device. The irony is that doctors have trusted outside data for quite a while. They receive chart notes faxed over from a specialty doctor all of the time. They trust that note and act on the data presented in the note. So, we shouldn’t act like the idea of trusting outside data is impossible. We just have to learn from the existing sources of trusted data and see how we can make that data flow easily and in a trusted way.

A great example of this is with HL7 lab interfaces. For some reason those interfaces have reached a level of trust where doctors receive lab results and trust that the data in those results is correct. I think we’ll get there with other forms of data transfer from outside entities. It will just take time to build up those networks of trust.

Being able to trust the data that a doctor receives or that’s stored in their data warehouse is one of the most important things we can do. Without the trust in the data, the data has little to no value and won’t provide the benefit to healthcare that we need it to produce. Healthcare big data is happening, but we need trusted big data.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

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