Fit for Use: Information Quality at CIHI

Today, data is everywhere. We use it to make decisions on a daily basis,
yet few people give much thought to where it comes from. When it comes to health care, data is generated
as patients receive care. Clinicians, planners and policy-makers regularly
use this information to improve the quality of care and effectively run health systems. Meet Kim. She’s a nursing supervisor in a long-term
care home. Her facility has recently introduced a fall-prevention
program and she’d like to know how effective it is. Kim learned about the Canadian Institute for
Health Information. CIHI, as it’s also known, provides information
on the health of Canadians and on health care in Canada, which Kim might be able to use. But she wants to know that the information
is high-quality before using it. After all, while high-quality data can lead
to better decisions, poor quality data can lead to poor decisions. Let’s take a look at how a simple error
in data collection can impact results. Dates are vital in producing meaningful health
information, but mistakes can sometimes occur when recording them. One incorrect or missing date sounds insignificant,
but many errors can significantly affect results. Kim wants to know that the dates indicating
when falls happened are captured accurately. Otherwise, date errors can lead to artificially
high or low numbers of falls within the time period she’s interested in. Kim also needs to know that the residents’
birth dates are accurate, because age often plays a role in health care use and outcomes. For example, age is used to identify specific
groups of interest such as children, youth and seniors — populations Kim is interested
in. Age is also used to validate other information
in a record or to link records. A single date error can throw a whole record
into question. So how does Kim know whether the information
is high-quality? CIHI uses the term “fit for use,” meaning
that people using the information can do so with confidence. In fact, CIHI has developed an Information
Quality Framework to measure and assure fitness for use that draws on international best practices. This framework has 5 dimensions of quality:
• Relevance answers questions like “Is this the type of information I need to help
evaluate my fall-prevention program?” • Accuracy and Reliability refers to questions
like “Does the information correctly measure falls in long-term care?” • Comparability and Coherence would consider
questions such as “Can I compare results from my facility with results from others? Or over time? How does this information fit with other data
I might need to use?” • Timeliness and Punctuality looks at information
like “Is the falls information current? Is it released on schedule?” • And finally, Accessibility and Clarity
refers to questions like “Can I easily find and understand the information?” If Kim can answer yes to these questions,
then the data is fit for her use. CIHI and its data providers work to ensure
that quality data flows from where it’s captured into the information products that
Kim, and others like her, can use. As data flows, processes and tools are in
place to prevent errors from happening and to identify and correct issues when they do
occur. Kim has reviewed the methodology used to produce
falls information and now knows how the data was captured and processed. She’s confident that she can use CIHI’s
information to help her evaluate her fall-prevention program. Many people make decisions every day about
the best way to deliver care within Canada’s health care systems. CIHI works hard, together with its data providers,
to ensure it’s a trusted source of quality data and information that people can rely
on. CIHI believes that better data leads to better
decisions, ultimately improving the health of Canadians.

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