Governance in healthcare: The next frontier of cloud and cognitive computing

RHIA,Global Healthcare Industry Ambassador, IBM Information Management

The need for information governance in healthcare has grown dramatically in the past few years because of the proliferation of digital data. Providers now understand that this data is one of the key assets their organizations must manage along with compliance requirements. Clearly the governance list is much longer and I’m just highlighting a few market drivers.

I recently gave the closing keynote at the AHIMA Information Governance Summit and discussed the need for governance not only in the context of the digital explosion and market transformation, but also in relation to cloud, cognitive computing and analytics. Here are a few highlights from the presentation.


As healthcare moves to cloud as a way to reduce costs and create data flexibility, organizations must understand and embrace strong governance for this data, just as they would for on-premises data. What is the retention schedule for cloud-based data? Who can access this data within the limitations of care delivery, analytics, privacy and so on? I believe cloud storage heightens the need for strong data and information governance. Organizations that don’t do so may fall into the conundrum of “out of sight, out of mind.” Potential liabilities associated with cloud storage extend far beyond any privacy concerns an organization may address. computing

The human limitations inherent with the proliferation of digital data are apparent to most individuals and organizations. Cognitive computing can deliver high value since it removes ambiguity, learns intuitively as data is ingested and used, and does not suffer from fatigue. However, governance is perhaps even more important in the new era of cognitive computing because cognitive computing must use trusted, high-quality data.


Most healthcare organizations for the next decade will likely be functioning in a hybrid environment with some data in a cloud (public or private) and other data either on premises or in a third-party processing center. The journey to the cloud is an ideal time to inventory what data is captured, where it is stored and the quality of this data.


As organizations execute various approaches to analytics running parallel to a cloud journey, now is the time to understand how data is or should be enhanced to support analytics, build an enterprise business glossary to ensure all data users understand data lineage and define redundancy that may be increasing costs and creating liabilities.

As these examples illustrate, today, more than ever, trusted data is crucial. A solid design and execution of an information governance strategy, along with strong executive sponsorship and effective business processes, is vital to developing and maintaining trusted data.

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