healthcare data governance

In the previous blog on challenges in data harvesting in healthcare, we touched upon a critical issue – while it is well known that creating a healthcare data ecosystem which connects hospitals, pharmacies, care centres, insurance companies, and related entities can improve process, accountability and profitability greatly, organisations often refuse to divulge or share their data with third parties because of the highly governed and regulated nature of the industry.  

For instance, we have seen that in the UK, healthcare laws are governed by the GDPR, Common Law Duty of Confidentiality (CLDC), and the Data Protection Act (2018). These laws operate at three levels;  

Organisation level healthcare data governance  

Where the policies and regulations laid down by the organisation apply to every last employee on the floor;  

Industry level level healthcare data governance 

Where organisations are expected to lay down and follow certain mandatory policies around data protection, governance and processes 

Ecosystem level healthcare data governance  

Where policies are laid out around data sharing and collaboration between entities.  

For example, one of the regulations states that any patient or healthcare data should be collected in a fair, transparent and lawful manner, and any data shared between two parties should be through a data sharing agreement, which clearly states who is responsible for the security and privacy of the data.  

Having said that, the ultimate goal of healthcare governance is not just to protect patient data, but to also ensure that they work for the benefit of clinical and operational staff.  

Let’s see how it can work across the spectrum. 

Healthcare governance in delivering exceptional patient care 

Healthcare institutions follow policies and procedures to derive one or both of these outcomes; to detect an ailment early and nip it in the bud, thus achieving the goal of delivering effective healthcare to patients, or laying down administrative processes that deliver a seamless experience to the patient in terms of treatment, procedures, payments and follow-ups.  

For example, when we talk about the former objective, during COVID-19, many hospitals across the world followed standard governance procedures laid down by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  

  • To detect and isolate patients who have the infection 
  • To provide precautionary care for patients who are suspected to have the infection 
  • To ensure that the infection doesn’t spread further within the hospital 
  • To ensure that adequate care is given to COVID-19, and other patients in the hospital 
  • To ensure that the clinical and operational staff are not infected by the virus 
  • To ensure that timely and appropriate communication is going out on how the hospital is treating COVID-19 

A Merit expert says, “While COVID was just one example, well before and after that, hospitals have faced a number of unexpected surge of patients due to floods, natural calamities, and unforeseen incidents. During such times, it pays to have healthcare governance policies in place, which are futuristic, are laid down in anticipation of such events and can be scaled to need. This ensures that patient care, in such circumstances, is clear, quicker and efficient.” 

Healthcare governance in protecting the interests of clinical and operational staff 

One of the major concerns we saw when hospitals were treating patients for COVID, was widespread staff burnout. This is something healthcare institutions can prevent with adequate healthcare governance policies in place. These policies can help to clearly lay down the roles and responsibilities of each staff member, aid in resource planning, and prepare for unexpected events. These policies protect the mental and physical well-being of staff, and enable them to focus on what’s important – which is, providing, safe, effective and efficient patient care experience. 

Healthcare governance in establishing safe data handling and data sharing practices 

It’s safe to say that no healthcare institutions work in silos. The industry is interdependent on various third-parties like pharmacies, insurance companies, healthcare contractors, medical equipment companies, and so on.  

In all of these partnerships, there is extensive data sharing that takes place, to strive towards the most optimal outcomes. Given that the nature of data in this industry is highly sensitive, it makes it all the more important for every organisation operating in this space to have strict governance policies in place, especially when it comes to data exchange. This creates more privacy and accountability, and also contributes towards making healthcare more universally accessible. 

Healthcare governance is not just limited to the C-Suite 

Today, healthcare governance is becoming more inclusive. If you observe, the governance board includes not just technology and IT staff, or business executives, but also chief medical officers, chief of nursing staff, the heads of various departments like administration, HR and finance.  

This is because having representatives from every front ensures the development of more meaningful and effective policies that protect the interests of the patient and staff, while also taking healthcare institutions towards a more technology-driven and profitable future. 

Merit’s Expertise in Healthcare Data Harvesting 

Our state-of-the-art data harvesting engine collects high-volume, industry-specific data at 4 times the speed, with 30% more accuracy than normal scrapers, and at a lower cost. 

Our solutions help some of the world’s largest healthcare brands seamlessly deliver data and insights to their end customers, including: 

  • Delivering curated content from thousands of online documents or PDFs 
  • Aggregating millions of specialised, industry-specific data points 

To know more, visit:

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