Master Data Management – Why Relationships Matter

Master Data Management – Why Relationships Matter

When you are traveling, you’ve got all sorts of information floating around in your head. What will the weather be like where I’m going? What suitcase will hold the clothes I need to bring for however long the trip may be? Should I take a taxi to the airport or drive and park there? Possibly you also have planned your trip using frequent flyer miles, staying at a hotel where you have a relationship with the front desk manager and driving a specific kind of car because you are thinking of buying one in the future.

All of this information is considered data about your trip. From the flight information (from where, to where, duration of the flight, type of aircraft, seating preference, flight number, number of miles) to what you eat while on your trip. While the individual segments of data like flight and hotel information are useful to the specific vendors (airline, hotel, restaurant), what is ultimately useful is the linkages between all of this data. Where do you travel on a regular basis? What type of hotel do you most commonly stay in? What types of restaurants do you prefer? This can help travel companies target their marketing to your specific interests.

Similarly, in the healthcare insurance market – it is very useful to insurance companies to understand ALL of the data for a member: which providers does a member see, how far away from a provider do they live, how do they get to provider appointments, how well does a member follow through with subsequent appointments/therapies and most importantly – what does the member’s household look like? Do they live alone or do they have a support system? Just like the travel example – payers have all of this information. Most likely, the data is stored in disparate systems. To get value from all of the data you have collected over the years- you need to capture, store and mine the relationships between the data. Master data is business critical data that is stored in disparate systems spread across an enterprise.

Master data management (MDM) is a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to link all of its critical data to one file, called a master file, that provides a common point of reference. There are many tools that can help enable master data management. A master data management tool can be used to support master data management by identifying duplicates, standardizing data (mass maintaining), and incorporating rules to eliminate incorrect data from entering the system in order to create an authoritative source of master data. A great master data management tool will allow users to understand the relationships between the data to help form a more complete view of the data.

In the payer market – it is a best practice to start a master data management implementation with a single domain. For simplicity, a data domain typically refers to all the values a data element may contain. Members and providers could each be considered domains. The member domain should contain all of the data elements that help identify a member (like name, MRN, address, SSN, phone number, etc). The provider domain may contain many of the same elements (name, address, SSN, phone number) but it also may include additional provider-specific information (affiliations, specialties, etc.). Each domain is unique, but there are linkages between these domains. For instance a member will have several providers (therapists, physicians, laboratories). A good MDM tool will understand rules for multiple linkages or relationships.

Imagine the scenario where you have all a single reliable view of your member, following standard data formatting rules (so the name is always last name, first name with the last and first name capitalized delimited by a comma) and kept up to date as the data is modified in the source systems. Imagine the quality of the reports against your members that could be created with this singular view. Now add in an understanding of the relationships that your members have with your products and with your networked providers. What additional insights could you possibly mine to better serve your members?