Patient health data usually travels a long distance before it finally gets to its destination. The data transferred by EHRs can be converted, merged, and mapped. Also, this data is used in numerous different ways. For example, healthcare providers use patient medical data at the point of care, researchers use it as a part of a large research data set or just for some discrete data analysis. It is also used by individuals to better manage their health. Since it goes so many places in so many different ways, how can one know that the data one has is reliable? Or whether the source one is receiving data from is trustworthy?

The concern can be answered by one word. “Provenance”. It is the term used to describe the metadata, (the extra information about data) that can assist in answering questions such as who created the data, when it was created and whether it was altered during information exchange. To put it in simple words, data provenance allows you to trace when and who created information, how it has been used before reaching your or whether it was moved among different data sources, and how it was altered throughout its lifecycle.

Provenance data is important as its increased use by health IT systems can help in identifying erroneous information. It can also be used is error notification and correction of Patient data both upstream and downstream. This, in turn, may lead to improvements in data accuracy and patient safety.

In the previous ten years, EHR adoption has become widespread across the entire healthcare industry. Today 96% of hospitals and 78% of office-based physicians in the USA use certified EHRs. The increased use of digital data has led towards a greater exchange of patient data nationwide. With this growth comes an increasing availability of health IT tools fueled by a growing demand among consumers who desire to share their health data with their providers. This has made the need for health data provenance and standard approaches to capture it, a very important priority. The Health IT Standards Committee has also issued recommendations to ONC in the past on data provenance.

Provenance data can be best generated and used through reliable and top of the line EHRs. There is a lot of money involved in getting a new Health IT system for a practice and getting a wrong software can do more harm than good. In order to help uncertain health practices in getting the perfect EHR, EMRSystems provides all the guidance they need. If you are one such practice, feel free to contact us and tell us your concerns.