Fierce Q&A: Data governance plan crucial for winning providers' trust

Jared RhoadsA clear data governance plan that includes how data will be collected, maintained and protected is a must for any hospital planning on pushing a big-data initiative, Computer Sciences Corporation senior research analyst Jared Rhoads writes in the company's latest whitepaper, "Transforming Healthcare Through Better Use of Data."

According to Rhoads, such a plan is crucial to winning providers' trust.

In part 1 of his exclusive interview with FierceHealthIT, Rhoads discussed how healthcare organizations can make better use of data analytics.   

In this second installment of the interview, Rhoads (pictured) discusses the repercussions of failing to implement a data governance plan, as well as how smaller hospitals can get involved in big data use. He also talks about interoperability--or lack thereof--in healthcare.

FHIT: You mention that many organizations fail to address data governance early on ... what are the consequences for organizations that fail to do so?

Rhoads: Organizations that lack governance find that key internal and external stakeholders do not trust or use analytics based on enterprise data because of lack of trust in the data and lack of transparency of how data is acquired and managed. Since they lack stakeholder support, they are unable to get the funding and user involvement to address issues of quality and timeliness. They're also prone to security breaches simply due to lack of well-understood data management policies and procedures.

FHIT: Bigger facilities with more financial flexibility have an advantage when it comes to performing data analytics. How can smaller organizations manage their data?

Rhoads: Smaller organizations can look for third party vendors who offer data management and analytics as a service. Often small organizations still have sizable data assets that can provide potential value, but lack the ability to use it effectively. Small, non-academic organizations are also the least likely to have the analytic skills. These days, hospitals need people with strong health informatics experience and statistical training--a rare combination.

FHIT: Why do you think interoperability is still lacking in healthcare, especially in comparison to other industries?

Rhoads: Until recently, there have been few financial or regulatory requirements for interoperability. However, recent innovations in regulation and payment models make data sharing important to earn pay for performance bonuses, avoid penalties (e.g., non-payment for 30-day readmissions ) and/or support new business models, such as medical home and ACOs.

Examples of other industries in which interoperability has caught on include telecommunications, banking (with their interoperable networks and payment systems), high tech and manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods, with their just-in-time production, real-time pricing and vendor-managed inventory.

Editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Read part 1 of this interview here.