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Governance in Healthcare: Big Data is Table Stakes

Big data itself does not alter the approach to governance nor its framework. And big data isn’t just about data – it’s also concerned with managing and governing vast amounts of content of varying types such as video, images, voice, etc.

Accountabilities and decision rights still need to be assigned; clear rules, processes, controls still need to be identified and put in place; and ensuring the availability and timeliness of information access still needs to be maintained. However, big data, by its sheer volume as well as its predominately unstructured nature, requires governance to adjust and adapt the actual components that are put in place to both effectively control it and extract value out of it.

Big data in healthcare presents its own challenges to the governance program. Accuracy is not easily validated, and reliability of the source cannot always be guaranteed.

Yet, this varied data, content, and knowledge must still be governed in such a way to ensure appropriate regulatory compliance, and ensure that the information gleaned from it is trustworthy.

Mechanisms for categorizing, modeling, and mapping must adjust to the volume and unstructured nature of the information and content, and the associated rules must be put in place for addressing quality and privacy concerns. For example, this may require reducing the accuracy threshold while still maintaining an acceptable risk baseline. Storage and retention issues may need to be addressed, including accounting for privacy concerns with securing unstructured information that may contain sensitive and personal health information.

All of these concerns means the development, definition, and enforcement of the governance rules and controls will require broad participation and collaboration from both the business and technical sides of the organization.

Governance programs must be both robust and nimble to be able to react to both the volume and velocity of unstructured data, content, and knowledge to ensure it receives the same, (or more) attention than the traditional structured data. While big data poses a challenge for governance programs, it should not be used as an excuse for not properly executing the program and ensuring information, knowledge and content integrity through effective rules and controls.

This blog was co-authored by Mark Steinbacher and Priyal Patel.

To learn more about the rebirth of governance in healthcare, and exploring the trends and impact on patients and organizational operations, you can download the guide below.

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