- Finding the balance between promoting healthcare data transparency and protecting patient privacy is key to addressing medical errors, a panel of healthcare professionals at the 7th annual Health Datapalooza conference stated Tuesday.
- The speakers discussed certain areas in which data lifecycle management could improve, such as de-identification, auto-populated data, and insufficient penalties for medical errors.
- Approximately 251,000 Americans die every year due to medical errors, according to a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study published earlier this month.
"There is a important societal debate on the way about how data can be used in the health area, and about data privacy," said Daniel Barth-Jones, assistant professor of clinical epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
A recent study from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) revealed up to 50% of daily medical notes contain at least one error, said MGH resident physician Dhruv Khullar during the session.
Barth-Jones noted there is "an incredible research value to de-identifying data" though there are several misconceptions about such process, including the idea that it does not work or that it works perfectly. “De-identification leads to information loss, which may limit the usefulness of the resulting health information,” he said.
Another issue with how medical data is currently collected is auto-population, according to Khullar.
"It's not surprise that doctors and patients are struggling with the paperwork," he said. He then called for a 75% reduction in the number of things that physicians have to document. "We need to capture only what's more important ot physicians, and to patients."
The speakers agreed both patients and providers would benefit from more data transparency. The key issue is that the healthcare industry is dealing with a tradeoff between disclosing and protecting information.
Considering the recently estimated high number of deaths associated with medical errors, Khullar argued doctors are more likely to write accurate notes if they know that their patients are going to read them.