The Importance of Standardization of Clinical Data
While some people fully understand the importance of standardization of clinical data, others have yet to realize that this is necessary on many levels.
At the present time, there is a lack of standardization of clinical data, which has far reaching implications both for health care providers and patients.
Computers are very literal
Take for example the addiction treatment niche. The same question can be asked in a variety of different ways. Here is one topic, with two different ways of asking and answering:
- What was your age of first use? (text field for the patient to write the answer)
- What age did you first use an illegal substance? (dropdown field with options for each age or age bracket)
To a computer, these are two entirely different things. The question is different and so is the answer.
Conversely, humans believe that they are one in the same. They are being asked when they first used a substance, and either way, they provide an answer.
One of the best ways to fix this issue is to consider what is already working. For example, with electronic health records, blood pressure is always recorded in the same format: systolic / diastolic. This ensures that the information is easy to read, easy to understand, and able to be extracted for reporting.
The Growth of Electronic Health Records
With the use of electronic health records on the rise, the standardization of clinical data is more important than ever before.
There are many benefits of an electronic approach, both to practices and patients, but there is still the opportunity for mistakes and the inaccurate recording of information. Fortunately, as the standardization of data becomes the new normal, all of the guess work will disappear. This will result in near perfect accuracy.
In the past, the standardization of clinical data was unimportant. This is changing in today’s world, with electronic health records the primary driver.