What is Master Data Management? Its Impact and Importance in Healthcare

We are living in a digital age and data is the currency. Almost everything we do generates data that can, in turn, be used in a wide variety of ways. Every day, numerous industries are benefitting from the ever-increasing scope of data insights. The healthcare industry is no different. However, just like any resource, data in its raw form is not of much value. It must be polished and transformed before it can offer its maximum potential. This is where healthcare master data management comes into the picture.

What is Master Data Management?

Master Data Management (MDM) is a data solution aimed at creating and managing the master data. The master data or master record is the foundational data record upon which an organization operates. The master record contains the essential information about the ‘critical target’. The ‘critical target’ depends on the organization itself; for example, a B2C company would see customers as its critical target. The master record contains all the information the company would need to know about the customer – including personal details, purchase history, payment instruments, and so on. 

The master record is of utmost value for an organization. As such, MDM revolves around curating this master data across various dimensions. This includes:

  • Data Governance: Enforcing the rules of the organization on the database, creating roles like data stewards and viewers, and ensuring compliance with internal or external data standards.
  • Data Quality: Improving the quality of the master data through a variety of steps like cleansing, standardization, data transformation, etc. 
  • Data Security: Enforcing security protocols to ensure that there are no data breaches and there is no data access without proper authorization.
  • Data Integration: Allowing for seamless integration of data with applications and other databases. In doing so, MDM must also uphold data integrity and security without causing any lags.
  • Lifecycle Management: MDM maintains the entire lifecycle of the master data, from creation and modification to deletion and archiving. This ensures effective version control of the data without issues like duplication. 

Master Data Management In Healthcare

Hospitals are increasingly going digital, which means all patient information is stored and accessed digitally. With the huge variety of information that a hospital might see, it becomes important to manage this data. Like many other domains, healthcare serves to benefit a great deal from good data governance. In fact, healthcare master data management is even more critical, given the high stakes involved in the industry. 

The hospital staff relies heavily on digital patient records for treatment and care. Any oversight – like accessing outdated or pre-correction patient information – could result in gross negligence. There are operational factors to be considered – like moving patients across departments, top-down flow of patient information, data security of confidential patient data, and so on. Beyond these internal factors, there are also regulatory compliances that hospitals must follow. All healthcare providers need to satisfy standards set by organizations like HIPAA – and data management healthcare has become an important aspect of those standards. 

Benefits of MDM for Healthcare

Now that we have understood what MDM is and why organizations might need it, let’s divert our attention specifically to the healthcare domain and look at the myriad of benefits healthcare master data management stands to provide to the industry. 

Unified Data View

One of the core benefits of an medical MDM tool is that creates a central framework for the master data. This framework also comes with a central, unified view. This means that the healthcare staff can have a comprehensive view of patient information at a single location. The time-consuming and chaotic hassle of getting patient information from multiple sources is eliminated. Furthermore, it also ensures that the staff is not missing out on any key patient information that might have been stored in some overlooked repository. Having access to multi-dimensional patient data is an essential step for doctors to plan their treatment and care. 

Streamlined Data Governance

MDM creates robust frameworks that could be easily used by the healthcare provider to enforce data governance policies. It allows the institute to create data roles, define data stewardship, monitor data access, and so on. Furthermore, it also makes it easy for healthcare providers to comply with regulatory guidelines like HIPAA. Not only does this save time, but also protects the hospital from the legal hassle if the guidelines were inadvertently violated.

The data governance framework, once established, also makes the flow of data a lot more streamlined and efficient. Efficient data access, in turn, saves valuable time for the hospital staff. 

Patient Data Accuracy

Data is becoming more important in hospitals with every passing day. Most records are maintained and accessed digitally. Doctors and hospital staff alike depend on these digital records to plan the treatment and care of patients. As such, it is obvious that this data needs to be the latest and always correct. 

Master Data Management stands on the principle of data integrity. Patient MDM tools create a central and unique repository of patient data management, merging data from multiple sources. As such, duplicates are eliminated from the get-go. Any modification or update in patient data is reflected immediately in the master data. This means that the staff always have access to the latest and most accurate patient information. This is a crucial factor in planning the most effective course of treatment for the patients. 

Efficient Interoperability

Medical treatments are often not as simple as going to a specialist and getting cured. More often than not, it involves going through multiple doctors, departments, and even hospitals – both during diagnosis and treatment. One of the most complicated aspects of this process is maintaining and sharing the patient data. The usual process could be prone to human error, but creating separate records for the same patient is also inefficient and time-consuming.

However, MDM offers a much more efficient and simple solution. The tool allows to share the master record of a patient with other doctors, departments, or even hospitals, with ease. Since the master data is unique for every patient, the doctors can be assured that the information here is latest and accurate. This makes it very smooth for different departments to coordinate with each other. It also makes the lives of patients much easier. Even as multiple departments work on the diagnosis/treatment of the same patient, there could be multiple additions and revisions to the patient data. MDM’s version control would ensure that the data is latest and without any duplicates.

Data Security

In the healthcare domain, data security is more important than most other verticals. The doctor-patient confidentiality is one of the core tenets of the healthcare service industry and one of the reasons why people trust their doctors. Data leaks and vulnerabilities can jeopardize this whole equation and can even be used against the patients. 

Healthcare Master Data Management focuses significantly on ensuring master data security. Security protocols are strictly enforced and automated, so there is no vulnerability caused by human error. By maintaining data roles and stewardship, there is a clear hierarchy of data access and no authorized entity can access the data. Even while sharing data with other entities – both within and outside the organization, MDM uses these data roles to ensure data security. The tool can do wonders to uphold doctor-patient confidentiality in this new digital age. 

Scope For Analytics

While not yet a popular use of MDM, analytics is quickly emerging as a great potential use case in the healthcare domain. As with any data, analytics can offer valuable insights from seemingly plain and unrelated data points. While analytics has proven to be of great use in industries like manufacturing and sales, the healthcare industry stands to gain a lot from it too.

MDM analytics on master data can offer broad insights into hospital performance, patient footfall, treatment success rate, diagnosis frequency, and so on. Even on a patient-level record, the tool allows to look at historic patient data with greater efficiency than humanly possible. This would allow doctors to look at seemingly unrelated symptoms that might indicate a more serious health condition. While this field is still being actively explored in hospitals across the world, it is safe to assume that there is a lot to be gained from using MDM for analytics. 

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the implementation of healthcare Master Data Management (MDM) has emerged as an indispensable strategic asset, fostering accuracy, consistency, and security in the management of critical data. The realized benefits span from improved patient care coordination and enhanced operational efficiency to heightened data security and regulatory compliance. MDM not only ensures the integrity of patient information but also empowers healthcare organizations to harness the full potential of data for informed decision-making and analytics. 

As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, data will continue to become even more vital for patient care and treatments. MDM stands as a cornerstone of this future, facilitating a unified and reliable data foundation essential for delivering optimal and patient-centric healthcare services.

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