Bad Data in EMRsIndexing inconsistent and spotty information makes it easier to search, but the results would still need a lot of clean up. In other words, EMRs will need to be fully combed through and corrected to produce accurately results. One issue with EMRs is that the underlying organizational structures are hard to change because of the audits and regulations that control these changes. Also, when hospitals merge, older record numbers get merged in with newer one; at the master database level the numbers are unique, however at the patient record level all sorts of interesting things can happen where duplicates number occur and short term fixes are put in place...
Some EMRs allow for free text to be entered as metadata which describes the electronic or scanned in form; great, but have you ever tried to pull any type of consistent meaning out of these free text fields? What were they thinking??
Optical Character Recognition (yep, ICR and OMR too)For hospitals that are not fully electronic, most of them, the issue of scanning and OCR'ing their forms and results is an ongoing struggle in that the forms and inconsistently filled out, doctors and nurse hand write their notes, and the design of the forms paper oriented. The technology behind ICR for hand writing is not good enough for recognition unless the hand written letters have boxes around them.
So, as Big Data permeates healthcare systems, at what point will it really help to bring about "significant positive change"? There are many years of hard work to get this point. If you drink the koolaid, index agents can intelligently sift through all of the noise and help find and report on the information that is required for upper management dashboards, however, I believe there will be many cycles of "reforecasting" Big Data effectiveness before it is ready for primetime.