The Importance of Data Integrity in Healthcare

by | Mar 30, 2022 | Healthcare, Life Sciences, Master Data Management

Businessman pointing to the words “data integrity” in healthcare

Data integrity in healthcare is key to protecting your patients and organization and ensuring the accuracy of your life science and biotech discoveries. However, not all healthcare organizations use secure and consistent data entry and storage processes, leading to errors and severe security breaches.

We will explore data integrity in healthcare and how your healthcare organization can ensure the quality and security of information.

Key Takeaways:

  • Data integrity consists of quality, contextual, and secure information.
  • Poor data integrity can lead to improper patient care and security breaches.
  • Healthcare organizations can achieve high data integrity by enforcing data entry policies and a high level of accuracy.
  • Blockchain and EHRs are two types of technology that can help you maintain data integrity.

What is Data Integrity in Healthcare?

Data integrity is the reliability of the data that you collect and store while researching and manufacturing pharmaceuticals and other biotech products. Maintaining data integrity means that all the information your healthcare organization interacts with and shares is accurate, trustworthy, and consistent.

Some examples of healthcare data include:

  • Patient test results
  • Physician notes
  • Product and medication information
  • Patient outcomes
  • Healthcare research

How is Data Integrity Different from Data Security and Data Quality?

The reliability of your healthcare records and data is your data’s integrity. Meanwhile, data security in healthcare refers to how safe you keep your data to protect your patient’s privacy and avoid data breaches.

Another common phrase that easily is confused with data integrity is data quality. However, data quality is only one part of the integrity of your data. It specifically refers to the accuracy and trustworthiness of your information but doesn’t consider the context or other supporting data that helps give a more thorough understanding of the information.

 

Diagram of all the components that go into data integrity
Image source: Precisely

Why You Need to Maintain Data Integrity in Healthcare

Healthcare workers and patients worldwide rely on accurate and complete healthcare data to receive quality care. Quality data also helps improve your biotech research as you will have more information to work with. However, if the information you collect is missing key points or has been incorrectly changed or shared, it can have serious consequences. For example, some of the negative repercussions of data with low integrity include:

  • Scams
  • Product suspension
  • Forced recalls or import bans
  • Legal repercussions
  • Loss of reputation
  • Data theft
  • Improper prescriptions

Data Integrity Issues in Healthcare

A healthcare organization can lose the integrity of its data by not entirely and accurately maintaining or sharing records. Here are two common data integrity issues in healthcare.

Improper Use of Electronic Health Records

Electronic health records (EHR) can help healthcare organizations keep quality records on file and easily share it with other parties such as patients, specialists, and life science organizations – which also makes them more susceptible to improper use. For instance, if a data’s integrity in EHR isn’t properly maintained or information is abused, it can cause severe data breaches and misinformation that compromise the stored data.

Poor Data Record Keeping

While healthcare workers are often overwhelmed with the stresses of the healthcare industry, they should not compromise on data input processes for patients or research. For example, writing notes on a sticky note to enter later is not a reliable method for data entry and can cause errors that severely compromise your data integrity.

5 Strategies to Preserve Data Integrity in Healthcare

How can you combat those threats to data integrity?

We will explore five strategies to help you build a healthcare organization with solid data integrity.

1. Enforce Data Governance Policies

Data governance plans are your organization’s processes for recording, managing, and distributing data. These policies keep your employees accountable for adhering to consistent policies for the security of your organization and its data.

Using an electronic health record system can help hospitals and life science organizations manage data governance policies by giving employees a unified location for inputting, storing, and sharing important data. Workers in life sciences and emerging biotech are starting to implement more patient portals as they shift towards marketing directly to patients instead of through hospitals.

Here are a few examples of data healthcare organizations might record or access in a patient portal system.

 

8 types of data in healthcare
Image source: Varonis

2. Provide Data Context

A key proponent of data integrity is its context surrounding the information. For example, each patient record should also signify who recorded it, where it was observed, when it took place, and who it is about.

These pieces of information ensure the data is always tied to the right patient, research project, or manufacturing batch. It also gives a digital paper trail for other healthcare and life science workers to follow if they have questions or concerns, as they can go back to the source for clarification.

3. Ensure Legal Compliance

About 61% of Americans don’t feel that their medical information is secure. Unfortunately, this fear is not entirely unfounded as, in 2021 alone, there were over 40 million compromised patient records reported to the federal government.

Because of healthcare’s susceptibility to data breaches, employees need to be extra careful to strictly adhere to all HIPAA policies for storing and sharing patient information during research or pharmaceutical marketing.

Additionally, data integrity adds an extra level of security to information if healthcare and biotech workers use thorough attribution and tracking, such as by applying blockchain technology. Blockchain could save the healthcare industry over $100 billion annually in costs connected to IT, operations, support, personnel, and health data breaches by 2025. For example, if there were an issue with a batch of pharmaceuticals, you can more easily track down who received the drugs.

The following video will explore how blockchain technology can help improve your data integrity in healthcare.

 

Video: Real-World Blockchain Applications – Healthcare

4. Maintain Real-Time Records

Keeping accurate records also requires having the most updated information stored in your database or patient files. For example, if a biotech researcher makes a habit of writing down notes to record later, they risk compromising the integrity of the records for other researchers consulting those notes.

Modern technology gives healthcare workers, manufacturers, researchers, and patients more options for recording important information in real time. For example, personal health devices can send patient data directly to their records in real time, even when the patient is at home. This information can help biotech researchers better understand patient habits and market more relevant prescriptions.

5. Perform Regular Accuracy Checks

Biotech and life science researchers can prevent errors by always double-checking data as they input information into the organization’s data storage system. Another way to ensure data is error-free is by always keeping data legible and clear so that anyone who looks at the information can understand the author’s original meaning.

Find a System that Protects Your Healthcare Data

Do you want to increase your organization’s data integrity?

Try our Coperor E-MDM platform to unify your data across organizations for a complete and accurate view of healthcare data for you, your patients, and healthcare facilities.

Contact us to find out more about our systems

 

 

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