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The Four "V"s of Big Data

Published November 9, 2012 12:55 PM by Jill Hoffman

(Editor's Note: This guest blog was written from AHIMA's Health Information Integrity Summit by Sandra Kersten, MPH, RHIA, AHIMA director of HIM Solutions.)

The American Health Information Management Association's Health Information Integrity Summit: The Quest for Safe, Usable, Quality Data in EHRs opened Thursday in Chicago with great insights on health information integrity and the expanding role of health data in the healthcare environment.

Lorraine Fernandes, RHIA, global healthcare ambassador for IBM, spoke about the "Three V's of Big Data" - Volume, Velocity, and Variety. She said that exponential increases in data raise the bar of what is possible in information management. Health data comes from various sources and streams in at an unbelievable rate.

As the volume of health data increases, analysis tools for big data are changing rapidly, enabling it to influence and shape care.

Prioritized uses of big data include:

  • to improve population health
  • intervention
  • health economics
  • patient engagement
  • care management.

Fernandes illustrated the power of big data with this quote from Kristen Wilson-Jones, VP, data services, Sutter Health: "Big data will allow traditional claims and procedure data to be integrated with data outside of healthcare to break down artificial barriers between healthcare settings."

However, as data analysis has an increased impact on care models and the U.S. healthcare system, the need for data quality is even more acute.

Veracity is the fourth "V" for big data, Fernandes said. Data needs to be accurate and trustworthy.

Dr. Grace Terrell, MMM, FACP FACPE, a primary care physician and CEO of Cornerstone Healthcare, focused her discussion on the changing model of healthcare and its dependence on data to drive the change. She stated that the U.S. model of care must change to provide high-value sustainable care. This won't be possible without good data. And health data analytics will be a high-value skill set.

In order to ensure that our health data is accurate, Linda Kloss, MA, RHIA, principal of Kloss Strategic Advisors, asserted that it's critical that organizations see information as an asset. With the rapid emergence of health information technologies, many organizations are struggling to adequately manage their information assets. It will take leadership to spark information management innovation, but there will definitely be a substantial payoff. The framework for information management is information governance.

Kloss proposed a three-year model to establish an information governance program:

Year 1:

  • Trustees/senior leaders develop a vision for EIM/IG - should be framed as a strategic discussion at trustee or senior level meeting. Ask tough questions about how ready are we to handle a breach. Convene a steering committee; assign key roles.
  • Conduct current state assessment.

Year 2:

  • Identify vulnerabilities, prioritize incremental improvements and risk mitigation; measures.
  • Design unified policy framework.

Year 3:

  • Initiate broad skill and competency development.

Kloss also asserted her belief that an accelerated healthcare reform agenda will drive the information governance initiative forward. When data is managed and utilized appropriately, it can help define good care, improve reputation, lead to better reimbursement, and ultimately contribute to better overall care.


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