Boston Consulting Group have released a new study into how various countries collect clinical data so they can improve health care while cutting costs. Looking at how the US could do better, BCG's Simon Kennedy zeroes in on the lack of data standards: “So many terms to describe the same medical event creates a lot of problems in the heterogeneity of the data. It would be nice if we could have a standardized medical nomenclature around the practice of medicine in the United States with much stronger data standards.”
Getting high quality healthcare with minimum costs is called value-based healthcare. BCG rank the sharing of high-quality data in their top four must-haves. I note also that one of the other requirements in the top four is for a “national infrastructure”, by which the report authors mean standards for processes and platforms.
It's good to see recognition of the role standards play at the meeting point between effectiveness and efficiency. Standards can bring both excellence in quality and parsimony in expenditure. They can also help to propagate best practice throughout a sector, raising service levels for all.