Failure to implement data standards in health care could be fatal – that's the judgment of the Harvard Business Review. Thomas C. Redman and Donald Nielsen note that computerization is delivering real benefits in health care, notably from aggregation of data. They cite a serious interaction between Paxil and Pravastin that was only discovered through analysis of newly aggregated data.
But elsewhere they see a “crisis” caused by non-use of standards. First, a lack of patient identifiers makes patient records incomplete and frustrates complete data analysis. Second, non-use of standards for health attributes can lead to poor or incorrect care.
As the authors say, “Without [standards] it is simply too easy to translate 'mild systolic flow murmur' into 'underlying cardiac disease,' 'wheeze" into 'asthma,' and mild reactions to specific drugs into allergies. These sorts of misinterpretations were all too common without computers, and electronic medical records have done nothing to reduce their severity or number.”
Every sentence of this article is highly quotable. I hope it has the impact it deserves.