Glaser: Don't forget about data in the rush to install software

Software-related issues such as "meaningful use," certification, interoperability and the forthcoming network of regional extension centers have dominated discussions about electronic health records since passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February. But there's another major aspect of EMRs that one prominent CIO believes is being overlooked: the actual data.

"This focus on the EHR software application should not distract us from also concentrating on the data in the EHR. Both the near and intermediate terms of the national EHR agenda pose several data challenges," John Glaser, VP and CIO of Partners HealthCare System in Boston, writes in Hospitals & Health Networks.

Glaser says interoperability--one of the goals of all the federal IT spending--raises all sorts of data management questions for senders and recipients alike. New privacy standards will necessitate better data protection and tracking. The effectiveness of clinical decision support will depend on the quality and completeness of information in patient records. The growth of pay-for-performance reimbursement and the impending switch to ICD-10 coding will only heighten the importance of proper data management, Glaser adds.

For Glaser's entire argument about the importance of EHR data:
- read the Hospitals & Health Networks commentary