Author: Lisa Rothmuller, AVP of Consulting, VerityStream
Duplication within large master reference tables can translate very quickly into data duplication with data containing the same information but with subtle but impactful discrepancies.
Inconsistencies within Master Reference Tables: Due to insufficient training and unrestricted user rights, master tables can contain duplicates and tables can be stored erratically on either the global or facility level.
Lack of a Data Dictionary: Undefined formats found within master reference tables makes it difficult for poorly trained staff members to know how a particular piece of data should be entered.
No Table Standardization Protocol: Inconsistent standards within tables can cause duplicates to occur. Users searching in large tables, such as hospitals or schools, can become unsure of the appropriate record to select.
During implementation of a new credentialing software system, users were given unlimited rights to data entry processes. Discrepancies in how data was entered occurred; for example, the spelling of University. More specifically multiple variations of the same facility were entered; University of California at San Diego, UCSD and Univ. of CA San Diego. Since no standard was set in place, users performed a quick search for an entity in the system and unfortunately were not well trained on how to execute a thorough search and chose to add the entity to the table. This inevitably caused duplicate records to be tied to various versions of the same information.
User Frustration: When there are multiple table values that appear to represent the same thing, both new and existing users will become frustrated. This can cause inaccurate values to be selected causing downstream reporting issues.
Maintenance and Reporting: Using different values for the same element found within a record can cause a variety of difficulties for a system attempting to use that information. Reports querying the information will become unusable; information displayed on external systems (such as Find a Physician sites) will display nonstandardized formats and information; and updates to the record (such as addresses or phone numbers) can be missed, possibly preventing automations to occur.
Define Maintenance User Rights: Only administrative users or users with a high experience level should have the authority to manage reference tables. In addition, an organization should establish a standard to determine which new types should be stored at the global, facility and hybrid levels.
Audit Periodically: Periodic audit of record types can keep these tables under control. Utilizing global update features allows a quick and easy cleanup when indicated.