GWI Australia

Using data to improve patient outcomes

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A framework for building trust and confidence 

The digitisation of healthcare in recent years has created opportunities for digital technologies to support better patient care. 

Innovations such as the integrated electronic Medical Record (ieMR) and other shared electronic health records, have focused on giving healthcare providers access to real-time data and systems that support the safe sharing of critical clinical information.  

But change has created both opportunity and challenge, with the success of such systems largely dependent on quality data.  

For many in healthcare, the shift has required a re-think of data management practices and the role they play in building both trust and confidence.  

With the state-wide implementation of the ieMR approaching, Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service (WBHHS) took the opportunity to re-assess how it managed and handled both clinical and corporate data.  

Given the service’s remit and reach across a minimum of 11 locations 37,000 square kilometres and a population of more than 214,000, WBHHS recognised the availability, quality and trustworthiness of its data was critical in the provision of high-quality and patient-centred care.   

WBHHS turned to GWI to develop a fit-for-purpose data governance framework and operating model that would allow it to build trust, better prepare for the introduction of ieMR and realise the potential of digitisation.  

Diverse functions, diverse needs 

Given the broad scope of the health service, it was clear the framework would need to support diverse functions and needs including surgery, nursing, emergency care, cancer care, education, training and research. More than 20 core functions were identified across the organisation.  

We suggested WBHHS adopt what’s known as a ‘functional approach’, which classifies data domains based on function, rather than organisational structure or information technology systems. 

What problems do we need to solve? 

A good data governance framework is centred around anticipating and solving problems.  

To build internal engagement and develop a fit-for-purpose framework, we shared a number of scenarios with staff, highlighting problems that could arise in the absence of quality data and demonstrating how data governance would provide a safeguard. 

We also consulted widely to better understand existing pain points and the unique needs of various end users. Both knowledge and technical experts played a significant role in determining what information was important to whom. While heads of surgery, for example, may not deal directly with data, they hold a deep and intimate understanding of it. These insights provided the context to determine how data should flow through the organisation and the best way to present and share information. 

Deciding who decides 

Following the endorsement of the framework, we set about identifying and onboarding data owners, custodians and stewards:  

Data owners —  hold the authority and accountability for the collection and management of information 

Data custodians —  oversee and implement safeguards to ensure the protection of information in accordance with policies, procedures and business rules 

Data stewards — ensure the quality and integrity of the information on a day-to-day basis by applying established policies, procedures and business rules 

In assigning decisions rights and accountabilities, we empowered the right people to make the right decisions.   

Aligning our approach with federal frameworks 

As part of Queensland Health, WBHHS operates within a complex federated information management environment. While its framework differs somewhat to that used by state government, its design remains aligned to support streamlined reporting and information sharing.  

Trust and confidence make for better decisions  

In addition to raising awareness of the value of data in improving healthcare outcomes, the governance framework and operating model has increased confidence in the data and ultimately led to more evidence-based decisions.  

Beyond an immediate uplift in data management maturity, the framework will ensure WBBHS enjoys long-term benefits such as reduced time to access patient information, improved operational efficiency, increased protection of data and greater consistency and oversight of data management practices across multiple locations.  

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