3 data integrity challenges in healthcare – and how to overcome them

Healthcare providers understand that utilizing organizational data can improve clinical and operational performance. However, if the data captured is incomplete then this minimizes its value.

Because planning needs to be based on the full picture, there has been a renewed focus on gaining full and accurate clinical data throughout the patient’s journey. Efforts are being made to improve systems, tools, and workflows to achieve comprehensive data collection in all areas of the hospital.

Documenting surgical medical supplies

The surgical setting is recognized as being one of the trickiest places to achieve full data capture, with many healthcare organizations struggling to record every billable item used in surgery. Errors and omissions in the clinical recording of usage don’t just concern patient health records and medical billing, they also indicate a failure to achieve systematic implant tracking, as required by UDI regulations – and that’s a red flag for patient safety.

Many organizations are well aware of the limitations of their point-of-use data capture tools, and many are noting the limitations of barcode technology in healthcare, when it comes to the surgical setting. Due to the challenges nurses face with technology, full data capture during surgery is not always achieved.

To compensate for this, organizations are putting quality control measures in place that check and validate the accuracy of the data collected. These activities will identify errors, omissions, and discrepancies, plus provide an opportunity to correct the EHR.

But putting systems and procedures in place to

compensate for weak data capture is not the answer.

With the point of care being a known ‘black hole’ for utilization data, many healthcare organizations are looking to find a better solution and are investigating the most reliable and efficient methods to collect usage data during surgery.

Hospitals place a high value on clinical data as they recognize that it has cross-organizational value. The aim is for all utilization data to be efficiently collected and promptly shared across relevant systems for improved clinical outcomes and operational performance.

Achieving accuracy, completeness, and security of clinical data requires robust workflows and efficient technology – many hospitals and surgery centers are keen to make all the necessary changes to get this vital OR supplies data systematically collected.

UDI regulations – why are implants tracked?

The FDA established the UDI regulations in 2013 to ensure the traceability of medical devices by creating a system that enabled the unique identification of each medical device and implant. The regulations state that healthcare organizations must document all implanted devices used in surgery and record this data in the patient’s EHR using a standardized unique identifier (UDI). Clear item identification and a digitally documented link between the patient and the product are important for patient safety.

UDI device tracking enables manufacturers to alert clinicians if a particular model has been associated with adverse events. If products are recalled then robust, digital documentation will facilitate the swift tracing and tracking of patients who consumed the product.

The UDI regulations are a driver for the accurate digital documentation of medical devices and implants used in surgery.

The traceability of medical devices is essential to guarantee patient safety, so healthcare organizations need to invest in reliable technologies and efficient workflows that enable full data capture of implants used in surgery. This will help them to stay compliant with FDA UDI regulations and ensure patient safety is maintained.

We can see the importance of collecting surgical data, but three challenges make this a difficult task for hospitals and ASCs.

Challenge 1: The need for automatic implant tracking

Many hospitals and ASCs still rely upon manual counts to keep track of stock items. This is an inefficient and labor-intensive process. With the cost of medical supplies increasing, healthcare organizations are looking to gain tighter vision and control of their medical inventory, and to achieve this they are looking at installing inventory tracking devices such as smart medical cabinets, that can deliver automated inventory management.

With high-value medical devices and implants, the best way to ensure total control of this expensive stock is to use an RFID inventory tracking system. RFID cabinets are designed to store implants and devices. These cabinets have built-in sensors that monitor the stock contents in real-time. Each cabinet registers and documents when items are removed.

The best RFID smart cabinets provide full and up-to-date inventory visibility and can track the details of removed items:

  • who removed them
  • when they were removed
  • which patient they were removed for
  • whether the item was later returned


Solution: New generation RFID cabinets are an excellent way to achieve automated medical supplies inventory management, adding visibility and accuracy to the management of high-value medical devices and implants.

Full, real-time inventory visibility is the starting point to regaining control of hospital supplies. Automated tracking ensures that there is always an up-to-date picture of stock and where it is located, making it easy for nurses to find the items they need for surgery, without having to hunt around for stock. Automation saves time and money, and ultimately high caliber patient care saves lives.


TotalSense Smart Cabinet for Medical Devices, Tissues and Implants
TotalSense Smart Cabinet for Medical Devices, Tissues and Implants

Challenge 2: Point of use item tracking

Once an item leaves storage that’s not the end of the story. At the point of care, there is a crucial need for digital item identification and recording. This should ensure that all billable products used – both those that came from RFID cabinets and those that didn’t – are charted in the EMR. Unfortunately, many point-of-use data capture tools simply don’t automatically capture the supplies used due to system limitations, bar code issues and more.

There are several reasons that data needs to be effectively collected during surgery:

  • By investing in perioperative software for data capture, healthcare organizations will gain control of their medical inventory. With a clear picture of usage, they can reorder based on need and put an end to guesswork.


  • When healthcare organizations put systems in place that ensure all items used in surgery are tracked and documented correctly, they have that all-important electronic link between the medical supplies used in surgery and the patient. This ensures ‘track and trace’ is possible, in the event of any product recalls, and boosts patient safety.


  • Point-of-use data capture is the final evidence of the items consumed in surgery. Reliable medical surgical supply chain data is essential to determine the cost of surgical supplies used in a procedure and this data can be used to accurately allocate the correct amount of medical costs within the patient record.


Many point-of use-data capture solutions are inefficient at achieving full data capture at the point of care. Barcode scanning is not always effective. Items may not be in the hospital system. And then the nurse reverts to the time consuming and error prone manual keying in of the data.

Solution: We can see that getting accurate POU data capture technology in surgery is an important element for hospitals and ASCs to get right, as they strive to improve data integrity.

New technology is revolutionizing point of use data capture. Computer-vision tools are new on the market and can achieve digital documentation in just 3 seconds, lightening the load on the nurse and adding speed and accuracy to surgical charting.


POU expiry and recall alerts, UDI and charge capture - IDENTI's Snap & Go
POU expiry and recall alerts, UDI and charge capture – IDENTI’s Snap & Go


Challenge 3: Using surgical data to inform decision making

RFID cabinets and point of use data capture are just one part of the solution, another vital component is their managing software which can provide useful inventory metrics, reports, and insights.

New automated smart cabinets can integrate with hospital systems so that valuable patient data is shared where it’s needed.

Too many healthcare organizations are basing important clinical and operation decisions on partial data. It’s time to plug the data gap and ensure full and accurate tracking of all medical devices and implants.

By leveraging the power of inventory management software, healthcare providers can:

  • Gain a detailed analysis of their surgical inventory, highlighting the most consumed items, identifying areas of wastage, and forecasting future demand.
  • Reduce wastage by reporting on items that are due to expire, that have already expired, or that have been recalled. This is not just a cost-saver, it lowers the risk of using a dangerous product.
  • Identify usage patterns, highlight variance among different physicians and identify inventory data that helps to streamline and reduce the inventory at hand.


Insightful data enables healthcare organizations to make evidence-based decisions about how to optimize their supply chain management. It also increases efficiency, reducing costs, order processing times, and patient risk.

Automated inventory management systems provide an effective inventory tracking system that can help hospitals achieve accurate digital documentation of the medical devices and implants used in surgery. In addition, the accompanying software provides helpful metrics, reports, and insights to enable healthcare providers to make data-driven decisions about their medical inventory.

Solution: Using advanced software to become a data-centric healthcare organization can improve both clinical and operational performance, saving time and money while providing better care for patients.


IDENTI Platform Report on Soon to Expire Items
IDENTI Platform Report on Soon to Expire Items

Best Practices for point of use data integrity in healthcare

We have highlighted three challenges:

  • achieving automated inventory management that facilitates real-time implant tracking and tighter inventory control
  • gaining accurate point-of-use data capture in surgery for full charting
  • harnessing patient data to drive supply chain decision making


These three challenges demonstrate how important it is for hospitals and surgery centers to invest in reliable technologies and improve surgical workflows so that full data capture is achieved. It’s only through improved data integrity that healthcare organizations can ensure they are compliant with UDI regulations, optimize their supply chain, and maintain patient safety.

Data integrity can be achieved by implementing best practice:

  • Automating inventory management – RFID smart cabinets are useful tools to achieve implant tracking from the point of delivery.
  • Achieving full data capture at the point of care by harnessing new technology that adds speed and accuracy to the process
  • Leveraging data to make informed, data-driven decisions that support optimized healthcare delivery.


By following this best practice, healthcare organizations can overcome their healthcare data collection challenges, ensuring that their collected data is reliable and secure. By implementing new technology and tools, healthcare organizations can make sure they have everything they need to boost performance, save money and provide top-quality care.

Improved data collection tools are helping healthcare organizations to reduce the time spent by busy nursing staff on supply chain admin.

Comprehensive data is enabling hospitals to:

  • Achieve a balanced inventory, reducing stockouts and surpluses and ensuring a leaner, lower-cost inventory at hand.
  • Gain control of stock to avoid expired and recalled products staying on the shelves – and reduce wastage by prioritizing the usage of soonest-to-expire items.
  • Tackle pick list variance, improving standardization and reducing costs


If hospitals and ASCs can gain a deeper insight into their expensive medical inventory they will be able to make more informed decisions that can make substantial cost savings.

Improving hospital performance through better data

The healthcare sector is struggling with increased costs and is aiming to improve efficiency and performance, while at the same time making cost savings. Many workflows are elongated. Many systems and tools are inefficient. There is much that can be done to tackle areas of efficiency and drive forward change.

By leveraging the power of strong data integrity measures and inventory tracking, healthcare organizations can make sure they have the right information to drive their decisions.

They can gain insight into their medical device usage patterns, improve patient safety, reduce wastage and identify areas where cost savings are possible. By following these practices, healthcare providers can ensure that every element of the healthcare system is working together to provide optimum care and deliver cost savings.

By addressing data integrity measures in healthcare, organizations can make sure they have the right information to drive their decisions. Improving data integrity is an essential part of meeting the challenges of delivering cost-effective healthcare services.

Improving the data-gathering processes and having full, accurate data to hand will be the driving force to identifying wastage and inefficiencies.


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About the author

Or is the Head of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships. She has a wealth of experience in the health–tech sector. Her innovative marketing strategies have successfully driven IDENTI’s growth in multiple worldwide markets. Her strength is the ability to identify what truly resonates within the industry. She is passionate about building relationships and her expertise lies in creating meaningful partnerships with healthcare providers, distributors, and suppliers..