9 DATA MANAGEMENT ISSUES IN HEALTHCARE COMPANIES

HEALTHCARE

There are plenty of data management issues in healthcare. From overwhelming amounts of information to fragmented data, it’s become a great challenge to collect, organize, and interpret every statistic that is tediously gathered by healthcare teams.

Data is the key to growing a company, but clarification is needed.

data management and visualization

Numbers mean nothing if they cannot be used to improve your company. Though it may seem like a daunting task ahead of you, we are here to help.

This article points out nine data management issues that the healthcare industry is currently facing. Understand that these problems are very common, but can be solved with enough effort and strategy. 

These nine problems are not only common in the healthcare industry, but they are seen in many industries because of the natural complexity that occurs when gathering large amounts of data.

Numbers seem to confuse us all, but that is no reason to worry.

We have designed this article to help you identify key issues so you can focus on identifying the problem, which is a crucial aspect of data management.

The best of data engineers and analysts make sure to ask themselves, “what is the story of this data?” And this is exactly what you should be asking yourself. 

Simultaneously Accessing Data Across Multiple Databases

Imagine sitting at your desk during a normal day of work as a data manager. You open your computer, log in to several databases of information that your healthcare company is regularly collecting, and try to make sense of it all.

You start to worry and you ask yourself, “Am I going to finish this presentation on time? What do I do with all this data from multiple platforms?”

My recommendation is to simplify the entire process and use tools that help you make sense of all of the data. No more going back and forth from platform to platform, comparing sets of data.

There are many tools that can help you with this issue, but only one that makes it super easy to visualize and interpret the data efficiently. We would like to introduce Knowi, a software that allows healthcare companies to manage data in one place.

business intelligence

Modern-day business intelligence requires highly skilled data engineers to work with many different locations and data sets at the same time. Before Knowi, this was not a simple task.

Visualize, interpret, and understand the story of your data with an intuitive and simple software.

It was an incredibly time-consuming process that you had to move data into a data warehouse and unstructured data to be stored in SQL.

Knowi allows data engineers to join structured and unstructured data sources to create combined data that allows you to…

  • visually analyze the data
  • apply machine learning algorithms
  • embed the results into data applications
  • share the dashboard with others
  • trigger actions to other applications or even notification systems.

But why tell you when I can show you? Start your free trial. Use it for 3 full weeks, test drive it, and see how it improves your data management.

Fragmented Data Constantly Causing Problems

When working in the world of healthcare, sometimes data can be stored in multiple locations, such as computer files, filing cabinets, archives, and even the cloud. When you have to go to multiple sources to gather and analyze information, this is called fragmented data

It presents a huge issue to any organization when the data is scattered all over. Fragmented data management issues in healthcare can quickly become complex, frustrating, and overwhelming.

Our brains can have a difficult time keeping track of where data is stored, how to decipher the information, and how to understand the story that the data set is telling.

The best thing to do in this situation is to consolidate all of the data into one location.

fragmented data

When information is stored in one location that has been specifically designed to be simple to navigate, the process of interpreting and understanding data becomes much easier.

Stop relying on difficult processes that slow down your workflow. “Work smart, not hard,” as they say.

Efficiency is the key to managing data.

When your work process is efficient, there are fewer opportunities for mistakes. Data is not easy to gather and it’s an investment that healthcare facilities take very seriously.

The information gathered has the potential to drive huge profits, but when mismanaged, data can be misinterpreted which can harm companies.

It’s a simple idea when you look at it. Either work much harder than necessary by having data stored in multiple locations, or consolidate the data into one powerful, simple, and stress-free platform that can help take your company to the next level.

Data Security & Data Breaches (Storage Issues)

Every company with any kind of database or online presence is at risk of cyberattacks. Cybercriminals target companies that have weak cybersecurity practices to steal their data for many different kinds of illegal purposes.

All companies, including healthcare facilities, need to protect their data from being stolen and then used by criminals or sold on black markets.

These are real risks that need to be addressed, and should not be procrastinated.

It may seem easy to say something along the lines of, “my data is safe, what are the chances of someone stealing it?”

Cybercrime has been dramatically rising and cybercriminals are smarter than ever. Don’t risk it.

According to a study in 2020, Healthcare Data Breaches: Insights and Implications, 64.65% out of 249.09 million medical records were exposed to hacking and cyberattacks.

data breaches
Healthcare Data Breaches: Insights and Implications (Source: www.mdpi.com)

Data management is a crucial aspect of your company, one of the most important things that can be utilized and interpreted to put healthcare facilities in the right direction of long-term sustainability.

When working with such valuable data, security is something that must be considered. It’s expensive to collect data, incredibly important to analyze data, and interpreting the data is a recurring event that must be done regularly since habits and preferences change with time.

In a nutshell, data is something worth protecting. 

There are many risks to not protecting your company’s data. But to top it all off, it’s very expensive to deal with data breaches.

Some laws make it illegal to lose data. If your data is lost to a cybercriminal, you are legally required to report it. Once reported, each person’s data that was lost will cost your company money. 

Regulations and Compliance

Healthcare companies are subject to many HIPAA regulations and are required to always stay compliant with these regulations, which include healthcare clearinghouses, health plans, and healthcare providers.

regulations in data management

As HIPAA Covered Entities (CEs), administrative, physical, and technical safeguards must be utilized to protect electronically protected health information (ePHI) data.

These technical, physical, and administrative safeguards are extensive and need to be reviewed.

Managing healthcare data is no easy task when approached by yourself. There are many pieces to this puzzle that add up to a very complicated and even frustrating result.

Following the many regulations and compliance requirements can be a full-time job in itself.

To put it plainly, it can be very challenging to deal with. But don’t worry, there are plenty of resources to help you on this journey.

Many of the linked articles within this article have great insights that can teach you about data management issues in healthcare.

Changes to Data

Both physicians and patients experience changes in their lives.

Moving locations, changing professions, and even retiring, a lot can happen. The healthcare industry is also always changing in many different ways.

  • New treatments are created
  • New medications are introduced to the market
  • New government regulations are enacted
  • The list goes on…

A plethora of more changes happen regularly that can make it difficult to keep healthcare data current and complete.

When all these sets of data are not correctly gathered and stored, it can create a delay in the adoption of new treatments, insufficient response to health care programs, and sub-par experiences. 

Data streams change rapidly and constantly. This is one of the many reasons it can be difficult to manage healthcare data. This is no easy task.

Data sets change, systems change, and even businesses change, making it complicated to understand large sets of data. Because data changes all the time, you must be able to easily visualize and see the changes in real-time.

This is why it’s very important to have a powerful and easy-to-understand data analytics software, like Knowi.

For example, a hospital needs to keep track of its data in order to operate efficiently. This could include tracking staff schedules to manage workflows at various times, and it could also include tracking their entire inventory, from medication to medical supplies.

Knowi data management tool
Screenshot of Knowi’s visuals

With data analytics and a data visualization tool, the hospital’s administration can make effective decisions for their daily operations with the ability to keep an eye on the aggregated data.

The ability to understand large sets of data is an opportunity for healthcare companies to maximize their workflows.

Healthcare Data Capturing Issues

There are more data management issues in healthcare besides cybersecurity, complicated data, and changing data.

Capturing data can be problematic, as well.

Fragmented data (as mentioned earlier) and even lost data complicate the data capturing process.

Manually adding data to spreadsheets is one of the processes that is commonly used to record data. This process is slow, tedious, and inefficient.

If you work with a very small amount of data, this might be a decent option, but if your healthcare practice works with new patients daily, this is not a good option for your company. 

Over 1.2 billion documents are created in the United States per year.

These are highly-valuable sets of data that provide important insights for healthcare companies. Data is so complex that a new job industry has been created for this era of information called data science.

It’s a big world of data out there. All businesses have stored data (from inventory to key metrics), but not every business does well at capturing data.

Manually adding data to databases and even connecting multiple databases to capture certain sets of information can require intricate tasks to understand and report this data to superiors.

Going back to the story mentioned earlier, imagine you have to create and submit a report to your boss by 5 pm about your findings with this year’s healthcare data sets.

You know your company has multiple locations where the data is stored, you know some of that data is even entered manually, meaning not all the current data is in the spreadsheet yet, and you know it’s going to take many days to sort through this data with classic spreadsheet pivot tables.

Where do you begin?

Using innovative data analytic software like Knowi can help you keep your data organized, even when the data being captured resides in multiple databases.

Lack of Data Cleaning

Let’s be clear, it’s critical to clean up your data. Mismatched healthcare data is very common nowadays in many healthcare settings.

These sets of data are incredibly important for patient care. Information from inside and outside the healthcare facility is added to the database daily, and all these numerous sets of data need to be high quality to provide high-value patient care.

Clear and clean data can help provide value, drive industry initiatives, and even help improve the process of patient care. 

Messy data creates messy results.

You need to be able to rely on your data sets to help your healthcare facility make important decisions daily.

data cleaning

From healthcare companies to financial companies, organized and updated information is needed to make big decisions.

Imagine a clean and organized software that orchestrates all aspects of your data collection into one easy-to-understand platform. This is what your healthcare facility needs to operate at max efficiency to increase profits and to provide a smooth business experience for yourself, your employees, and your patients. 

When data is not cleaned, analytics projects can break and cause problems. One of the main culprits for contributing to unclean data is inputting data manually.

This solution, which many companies utilize, is not very accurate, being compared to sophisticated software and algorithms that have been specifically designed for this task.

Computers are much more capable of collecting and organizing data on large scales than people.

However… If there is no other choice but to enter data manually, you must introduce a system or process that helps you clean up the data and organize it.

Data Blindness: When There Is No Data Visualization

Data blindness occurs when you are not able to visually interpret data in front of you, specifically in the form of charts, graphs, and reports.

Looking at a spreadsheet full of information is one definite way to become confused and overwhelmed.

The purpose of data visualization is transparency and clarity.  Fortunately, there are great solutions in the market that provide data visualization for healthcare companies in an efficient and straightforward manner.

 Data Blindness

When you aren’t able to visualize your hard-earned data, you will have a difficult time deciding what all that data even means.

  • What story is the data telling?
  • What processes can we improve with this data?
  • How can we help our patients with this data?

All these substantial questions cannot be easily answered without comprehensive and clear data visualization.

Data visualization tools were created for this very purpose – to offer transparency and understanding to your gathered data.

Not Recruiting the Right Talent to Analyze Data

Big projects require effective teams. This is a piece of data analysis that not many of us think about until our data sets become overwhelming.

A team is required to put the data to work, but not just any team, you need a wonderful team that works well together and focuses on your healthcare facility’s large goals.

Hiring the right data scientist is a decision that can influence the success of your data gathering and interpretation efforts.

Healthcare facilities need to invest a lot of time and resources in hiring talented and experienced data scientists to correctly gather and interpret data.

The right data scientist will have a plethora of skills and a vast knowledge base that they can contribute to your company, making the management of the data and the company’s decision-making more efficient.

In a study, by Melanie A. Meyer, “Healthcare data scientist qualifications, skills, and job focus: a content analysis of job postings,” a proficient data scientist must be well-equipped in multiple:

  • Big Data Management Platforms (e.g. MongoDB, AWS, and etc.)
  • Programming Languages (Python, R, and etc.)
  • Relational Databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and so on…)
  • Visualizations Tools (such as Knowi)

The best healthcare facilities need the best data teams, and the best data teams have top-tier data scientists.

When working to avoid data management issues in healthcare, building your team of data scientists is highly recommended. The insights, recommendations, and transparency they offer cannot be overstated.

With a visual data analysis software, data scientists can their work to the next level, providing your facility with many more much-needed insights, being compared to manual spreadsheets alone.

The Wrap Up

There can be many data management issues in healthcare.

That’s for sure!

But this does not have to be true for your healthcare company.

From accessing data from multiple locations, dealing with fragmented data, working on cybersecurity, learning about regulations and compliance, and having a lack of clean data, there are many things to consider when operating a healthcare facility.

It might be frustrating trying to manage and mitigate all of these data challenges, which is why data engineers must use the best data analysis and visualization software on the market.

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