At St. Joseph Health, Trusted Data Enables Better Patient Care

For St. Joseph Health, improving health and quality of life of the people is the ultimate mission. It requires a number of considerations, or, “dimensions of performance” as it was introduced by the organization at this year’s MDM & Data Governance Summit in San Francisco:

  • Cost of the care – including the current and projected costs
  • A comprehensive physician network that delivers the essential care to the people in need
  • Properly managed, connected patient information that is easy to access for the providers and payers
  • Engaged people so they are always informed and looking for ways to improve the service.

data governanceTo achieve excellence in performance along those dimensions, St Joseph Health relies on trusted data to help make sensible decisions.  The data about patient, providers and payers contains wealth of information, if managed properly,  it can deliver tremendous insights to its users who can then take appropriate actions towards improving the patient service.

The data governance program at St Joseph Health was established to ensure important data is formally managed across the enterprise, so that not only the data can be  accessed  easily and quickly when it’s needed, but it also contains accurate, relevant, and timely information for its downstream consumers. At the moment, three specific business goals have been developed for the data governance program:

  • Improving the efficiency of the reimbursement process
  • Improving quality of care and patient safety to reduce re-admissions
  • Supporting at –risk payment models

Based on those objectives, a few data governance projects have been identified, including support of the MEDITECH Standardization, Big Data /Population Health,  more effective and efficient data cleansing process, and improvement on the timely access of high quality data to support strategic decision making and performance evaluation.

If you have been keeping up with the latest on data governance, you would  agree that data governance is more than just data gathering and cleansing, it is much, much broader than that. Data Governance should be treated as a business function which will require people, process and technology to work together, just like any other business function in an organization. data governanceAt St Joseph Health, the data governance team kicked off the program by identifying the business priorities and data issues  that could  hinder the progress,  the  team  then designed a sophisticated set of data management processes and appropriate tools to overcome  the data challenges.  For instance, to meet the high standards of the 5 core metrics around data – consistency, accuracy, timeliness, accessibility and relevancy, data governance team developed comprehensive processes  around  how data is prioritized, processed and continually verified; to ensure successful execution of the data governance program, a cross-functional organization structure  was proposed by the data governance team; to accelerate data cleansing and support the “Information Sophistication” initiative, data quality, master data management, metadata management tools were deployed.

Although St. Joseph Health has selected a number of data management tools,  data quality and Master Data Management are two critical solutions for obtaining accurate patient identity and establishing the golden records for payer and provider data. The organization also uses those technologies to educate staff on downstream impact of data entry errors and encourage folks working with data to leverage the data quality tool they acquired to help reduce the data error more effectively and efficiently.   The best part?  data governance team was able to associate the data quality issues with business impact by demonstrating how errors in patient records can lead to large amount of denied or delayed claims as well as delayed tests, and link those outcomes with the company’s  financial performance, the result is an eye-opening experience for both the producers and consumers of the data.

At St Joseph Health, data governance is a well thought-out, multi-year, multi-phased program.  It is projected to be in production in 2016 with a roll-out of a number of products including patient master, clean provider records and proper grouping of payer codes and patient assignments.

After  two years of hard work, it’s payback time.  The data governance program at St. Joseph  Health has seen early success from the improvement on all three data domains – patient, provider and payer.  Next step is going into production.  The main tasks will include establishing stakeholder’s accountability, incorporating the data governance processes into the existing workflows, feeding provider golden record to the downstream users.  For the data governance team at St. Joseph Health, the fun just started!

data governanceIf you are interested in learning more about data governance (almost certain you are if you have gone this far:) ), we encourage you to visit: and become a member today!