Saving Lives with MDM

Michael Vizard

IBM is adding master data management (MDM) provider Initiate Systems to its portfolio as part of its push into health care with its Smarter Planet agenda.


According to Sean Hogan, IBM vice president for healthcare delivery, Initiate Systems is the gold standard for MDM in the health care sector. Unfortunately, data quality is still a major issue in health care. Some estimates suggest that the number of deaths due to medical errors in the United States could be as high as 200,000 a year. And some people are suggesting that medical errors are to blame for the recent death of Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., after routine gall bladder surgery.

The challenge going forward, says Hogan, will be converting MDM from an event that IT does occasionally into a real-time, ongoing data governance process that makes sure medical information is accurate. Making that happen will require tightly coupled MDM initiatives to electronic medical records to create an end-to-end picture of a patient's overall health care portfolio.

Right now, the state of health care IT is a mixed bag. Health care institutions are easily enamored with technology solutions that directly affect patient care. But back-end office systems are often under-funded and left to languish. And yet, it's the records in these systems that far too often make the difference between life and death

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