One conundrum for hospital case managers involves identifying patients’ social determinants of health needs when the hospital record does not list all these data. The visible data could be missing critical factors related to why patients are returning to emergency departments or are not taking their medications.
Researchers found inconsistencies in the way ethics consult volume was reported, which made estimates of growth over time inaccurate. These investigators created a methodology to allow many more factors to be weighed, which could lead to a more accurate estimate of how many consults ethics services should be performing.
“Big data” is a buzzword in healthcare these days. The term refers to the vast amount of electronic data healthcare providers have accumulated over the years. While the concept can seem pretty abstract, big data is more relevant than ever and potentially at every case manager’s fingertips if provided with the right tools to harvest it.
The problems with HIPAA and current methods of protecting the privacy of individuals in research are being challenged in ways that were not possible in previous decades due to the ease and use of big data. Data scientists and other savvy investigators can combine de-identified data in a way that makes cross-references and re-identification possible.
Researchers and sponsors are adapting quickly to virtual technologies and using big data in studies, forcing IRBs and research protection programs to adapt — particularly when it comes to privacy. When IRBs review studies that use big data, they need to be reviewed through the lens of ethical review.
Working from home is the new normal and will be for many healthcare employees for a while, so adjustments are necessary to maintain compliance with HIPAA. Protected health information must be managed properly whether the employee is in the healthcare facility or at home.
As IRBs and research programs increasingly seek IRBs of record and form reliance agreements, they will need to know whom to trust. IRBs also need their own performance data to share with sponsors, researchers, and others. The challenge is developing metrics that work and can be used by other IRBs for benchmarking purposes.