Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

Data Mangement Function


Provides data management resources to ensure that patient demographic data is managed effectively as a organizational asset, providing oversight and support to establish and maintain data management best practices, facilitate adoption, and ensure utilization.

Introductory Notes

The data management function is a core set of business processes, such as Finance, Human Resources, or Facilities Management, that provides resources to facilitate the establishment and adoption of best practices across data management disciplines, and which will always be needed across the full lifecycle of patient demographic data.

The scope of the data management role will vary according to the size of the organization and its span of control over patient demographic data assets. For a small organization, the role may be fulfilled by one person on a part-time basis. For larger organizations with a greater span of control over the data, a multi-person organization may be required. However, the essential concept is to assign accountability for persistent work products that the organization builds and maintains over time. Examples of these work products include data management policy and process documentation and quality rules that are developed to improve the quality of patient demographic data.

The plan for data management resources should be based on the organization’s goals (e.g., to improve patient care and safety), objectives (e.g., eliminating duplicate patient records), and priorities. For example, an important task would be to create quality rules to address defects discovered in a central data store receiving patient demographic data from multiple sources.

The goals of recognizing a distinct data management function are to: institute responsibilities, authorities, and accountability over key data management assets; help ensure the adoption of consistent policies, processes, and standards; and align with data governance on data management priorities and decisions. The benefits of implementing a recognized data management role include:

  • Raising data awareness across the organization;
  • Facilitating implementation of best practices, in collaboration with governance representatives;
  • Reducing duplicative efforts by promoting best practices; and
  • Fostering adoption of data-related processes, standards, and guidelines.

In most organizations, the data management function has typically originated within IT and was closely linked to the design and implementation of data stores. As organizations have moved toward appreciating the criticality and value of their data assets, the data management function has become more of a business function. The data management role is increasingly becoming a business-centric leadership role for implementing data management capabilities and conducting compliance actitivities. For example, the data management function maintains the continutity of governance activities, such as the creation and maintenance of the organization’s business glossary and metadata.

The success of data management depends on business ownership of its goals and objectives. The lines of accountability and responsibility for data management activities are typically communicated in an organizational chart, an interaction diagram, and often using a Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed (RACI) matrix. In a larger organization, it may be useful to document the mission, objectives, and responsibilities of the data management function in the form of a charter. However, even in a very small organization, it is advised to consider recognition and assignment of this role.

Additional Information

The designation of at least one resource responsible for the processes and persistent work products (business terms, metadata, defined processes for quality improvements, etc.) used to manage patient demographic data, even if not full time, will improve coordination of the various individuals that impact patient data through its lifecycle.

Example Work Products

  • Assignment of data management responsibility

Additional Information

Creating a data management role is recommended to improve the consistency of practices and develop the key work products and guidelines that are needed to manage patient demographic data across its lifecycle, including: specifying business terms and metadata; evaluating and improving data quality; and developing and maintaining data standards.

If patient data is to be effectively merged by a vendor, a designated resource is needed to work with participants in the patient registration process - as well as all relevant producers and consumers - to ensure and maintain continuity of critical data across the organization. It is advisable for the data management role to coordinate with health information management staff, who are monitoring patient registration data along the entire lifecycle, and work closely with data governance.

Example Work Products

  • Defined data management roles and responsibilities

Additional Information

The absence of a designated data management function leads to uncoordinated, ad hoc efforts. Typically, patient record discrepancies are addressed by business departments within a hospital, such as the registration and health information management departments. Because they often do not have end-to-end visibility of the entire patient demographic data lifecycle, it takes more effort to elevate data quality issues for resolution.

To achieve the goal of improved patient data quality for safety and better care, data management activities should be coordinated across the data lifecycle, with adoption of standard processes and an established a cross-functional governance team that is charged with achieving measurable objectives (e.g., improving completeness, conformity with organization standards, and reducing duplicate records).

Some healthcare organizations recognize the ongoing nature of this problem and have instituted a permanent data management function aligned with data governance.

Example Work Products

  • Data management RACI
  • Data governance interaction
  • Standard processes

Practice Evaluation Questions

Tier 1: Foundational

1.1 Has the organization designated a resource responsible for standards, processes, and communication about patient demographic data?

Tier 2: Building

2.1 Has the organization established a data management role that is responsible for ensuring the continuity and integration of key activities for managing patient demographic data?

Tier 3: Advanced

3.1 Has the organization leveraged the data management function to create standard processes for the management of patient demographic data with governance engagement and approval?