The increased demands for data sharing and interoperability and health information exchange, especially across different provider and practice settings and classification systems, increase reliance on data mapping tools and techniques.
Those who use data maps should understand their role and context, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, to ensure the reliability of the data the maps provide. A new thought leadership paper from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), “Data Mapping and Its Impact on Data Integrity,” offers recommendations to help users think through the risks and unintended consequences of data map use before any projects are planned.
“Data maps are a powerful tool for those who steward health information, but it’s important to use the maps to their best advantage,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, FACHE, CAE, FAHIMA. “AHIMA is proud to publish this thought leadership paper to advance the industry’s knowledge of data mapping best practices.”
Written by a team of AHIMA volunteers and staff, the paper provides guidance to avoid adverse outcomes involving the use of maps, including tips for map maintenance, mapping process and tools affecting data integrity, and best practices to avoid data mapping errors.
The increase in data mapping projects is the result of the need to link disparate electronic data systems in a rapidly changing environment. Mapping projects are valuable in a variety of situations where data elements from one code or data set are compared to another set and evaluated for equivalence of meaning. To optimize the use of data maps, the paper recommends the following best practices:
- Document the map heuristics and standing business rules surrounding the development of each map. These rules would include well developed use cases for each map, the identification of applications that would use the map, and documentation to explain how mapping rules are created and deployed in the workflow.
- Create a program and process to test the validity and reproducibility of the map. A testing program should cover the development process of the map and any associated tools used from map development to end-user acceptance testing and approval.
- Create and implement a maintenance program. Source and target code sets for any map may be subject to change due to periodic updates, removal from source or target data sets, discontinuation, or major version changes from either end of the map.