One of the big struggles in healthcare is the difficulty of Master Data Management. A typical regional hospital organization can have upwards of 200+ healthcare applications, multiple versions of systems and, of course, many, many “hidden” departmental applications. In that situation, Master Data Management for the enterprise as a whole can seem like a daunting task. Experience dictates that those who are successful in this effort start with one important weapon: data and application governance.
Data and application governance can often be compared to building police stations, but it is much more than that. Governance in healthcare must begin with an understanding of data as an asset to the enterprise. For example, developing an Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI) is creating a key asset for healthcare providers to verify the identity of a patient independent of how they enter the healthcare delivery system. Patients are more than a surgical case, an outpatient visit or pharmacy visit. Master data management in healthcare is the cornerstone of moving to treating patients across the entire continuum of care, independent of applications and location of care. Bringing the ambulatory, acute care and home care settings into one view will provide assurance to patients that a healthcare organization is managing the entire enterprise.
Tracking healthcare providers and their credentials across multiple hospitals, clinics and offices is another master data management challenge. While there are specialized applications for managing doctor’s credentials, there are not enterprise-level views that encompass all types of healthcare professionals in a large healthcare organization and their respective certifications. In addition, this provider provisioning should be closely aligned with security and access to protected healthcare information. A well designed governance program can supervise the creation of this key master data and the integration across the organization.
An enterprise view of Master Data provides a core foundation for exploiting an organizations data to its full potential and offers dividends beyond the required investment. Healthcare organizations are facing many upcoming challenges with reference data as a part of master data management, especially as the mandated change from ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes approaches. Hierarchies are the magic behind business analytics – the ability to define roll-up and drill-downs of information. Core business concepts should be implemented as master data – how does the organization view itself? The benefits of a carefully defined and well governed master data management program are many: Consistent reporting of trusted information, a common enterprise understanding of information, cost efficiencies of reliable data, improved decision making from trusted authoritative sources, and most importantly in healthcare, improved quality of care.
Data and application governance is the key to success with master data management. Just like an inventory, key data elements, tables and reference data must be cataloged and carefully managed. Master data must be guarded by three types of key people: a data owner, a data steward and a data guardian. The data owner must take responsibility for the creation and maintenance of the key asset. The data steward will be the subject matter expert that determines the quality of the master data and its appropriate application and security. Finally, the data guardian is the information technology professional that oversees the database, the proper back-up and recovery of the data assets and manages the delivery of the information. In all three roles, accountability is important and overseen by an enterprise information management (EIM) group that is composed of key data owners and executive IT management.
In summary, master data management provides the thread that ties all other data in the enterprise together. It is worth the challenge to create, maintain and govern properly. For success, pick the right people, understand the process and use a reliable technology.