Reimagining health data use: Highlights from Data and Information Quality Week 2022

Reimagining health data use: Highlights from Data and Information Quality Week 2022

Data and Information Quality Week, hosted by CHIMA, is an opportunity to celebrate the importance of data and information quality and the health information professionals who contribute to health outcomes across Canada.

This year, we had the opportunity to host a session presented by Dr. Ewan Affleck, senior medical advisor—health informatics, from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. Titled “Reimagining Health Data Use: Overcoming the Blues,” this session examined the reuse and importance of harmonizing health information in Canada.

Sharing an experience in Quebec, where a diagnosis was inaccurate because some health information was inaccessible, Dr. Affleck demonstrated that information is “foundational to the provision of quality care.” According to him, when information sources are removed or fragmented, this can perpetuate “informational chaos” and have a negative impact on the quality of health care.

If information is fundamental to providing quality health care, “who is in charge of managing health information in Canada?” Dr. Affleck asked. Elaborating on this, he highlighted four things to note in health information management: the governance of health care, health care policies, the regulation of health care, and technology.

Impairing the continuity of health information, which is an important feature of optimized health information architecture, are legislative hindrances around the safe use of information in Canada. “We are legislating the fragmentation of patient information, which is damaging people,” said Dr. Affleck. “There are no substantive industry standards or regulations which promote interoperability.”

Dr. Affleck touched on the rising cost of health care and the focus on technology, warning that the properties of technology design that will deliver safe, timely, effective, efficient, and equitable patient care are not prioritized. According to him, Covid has revealed problems with the capacity of clinical services, research, innovation, public/population health, and the management and oversight to use data properly; problems that were pre-existing but are now clearly evident. He posited that a new data architecture, one designed around person-centricity, is required to drive harmonized data interoperability.

But all hope is not lost. Dr. Affleck shared that person-centric interoperability is “beginning to be discussed” and listed the following reasons for optimism:

  • The establishment of the Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy Expert Advisory Group by the federal government to “support the effective creation, exchange, and use of critical health data for the benefit of Canadians.”
  • A forthcoming policy paper on patient-centric health information governance by the Canadian Medical Association.
  • Some similar work being done by the Ontario Ministry of Health.
  • A governance model around patient-centric data designs for virtual care by the Alberta Virtual Care Working Group.

He emphasized the need to harmonize health data through a patient-centric data architecture justified by the following four imperatives:

  • The legal imperative – The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1992 that patients own their health information.
  • The ethical imperative – The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms upholds that the control of a person’s information is a charter right.
  • The quality imperative – that patients who have control over their health have better outcomes.
  • The architectural imperative – that person-centric data architecture obliges the alignment of data policy, governance, regulation, and technology.

In conclusion, Dr. Affleck enjoined those on the call to “begin demanding for coherent [sic] system design” and “collectively socialize these notions.”

Solving data quality issues across Canada

Speakers from 3terra, Akeela Jamal, Richard Obuhowich, and Matt Goertz, shared details of their collaborations with hospitals across Canada, highlighting essential aspects of data quality and areas of concern across the country. They also shared frameworks and processes for improving data quality, the effects of poor data architecture, and information about 3terra’s tools.

3terra is poised to address data quality issues through user interface changes, data quality software, automated data cleansing, better data architecture, and training, standardization, and governance.

Measuring coding productivity

The National Coding Collaborative facilitated this exclusive event for coding leaders. It was an opportunity to discuss the progress of the national coding collaborative committee and some industry happenings across the country.

Making connections to improve data and information quality

At this members-only event sponsored by H.I.M. ON CALL, participants got an opportunity to network and learn how to improve data and information quality. We asked those on the call to think about what kind of skills they were looking to develop and their contributions to data quality.

The breakout sessions were facilitated by chapter volunteers, Kait Greer (BCYT), Roberta Green (NSPE), Ridwan Jimoh (NB), and Rushik Patel and Anna Shule from the SK chapter. Some of the discussions included the following topics:

  • Possibilities for integration and collaboration
  • Cross-training as an effective mechanism for capacity building
  • Patient-information verification
  • Coding learning and experience
  • Skills transfer from traditional HIM roles to business analysis
  • Student participation in data quality   
  • Practicum opportunities
  • Online resources for continual education

CHIMA would like to appreciate our sponsors for this year’s Data and Information Quality Week, CIHI, 3terra, and Microsoft.


Government of Canada. (2021). The pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy: Expert Advisory Group Overview.

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