Strengthening Health Information Infrastructure for Health Care Quality Governance

Good Practices, New Opportunities and Data Privacy Protection Challenges

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Health data constitutes a significant resource in most OECD countries that could be used to improve population health, the quality of health care and the performance of health systems. Rising levels of chronic diseases; concerns about the quality and safety of patient care; the need to assure value for investments in health care; and the need to allocate health resources wisely; are all too important to be left without good evidence for decision making.

This book, based on studies of 19 countries on the development and use of personal health data and of 25 countries on development and use of electronic health record systems, includes results showing good practices, new opportunities and data privacy protection challenges. It finds that well-intended policies to allay concerns about breaches of confidentiality and potential misuse of personal health data may be limiting data use, but that the next five years appear promising, in terms of both the number of countries that plan to implement national electronic health record systems and the number that consider it likely that data from these systems will be used for some aspects of health care quality monitoring. They also appear promising for the further use of existing personal health databases and for the linkage of multiple data sources to generate new evidence.


National health information infrastructure

National information infrastructure appears strong with all 19 countries reporting national hospital in-patient, mortality, health survey and population data and all countries reporting using some data to regularly monitor health care quality. Further, all report having legislation that speaks to the protection of the privacy of personal information. Following patients through the care pathway, and from one database to another, requires patient identifying information. More than one-half of countries report that their national personal health databases do contain unique patient identifying numbers. Countries are divided, however, with about one-half engaged regularly in data linkage studies to monitor health care quality. This chapter presents the findings of the 2011/12 OECD study of 19 countries regarding the availability of personal health databases at the national level, the sharing of data across national public authorities, national infrastructure for data linkages and analysis, regional and health care network infrastructure for data linkages, and regular uses of linked data for national health and health care monitoring and research.




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