4. Data quality


Data quality

Health data is the cornerstone of health care systems, and its quality has always been a key concern because of its importance in shaping health policies. Therefore, within health systems standards for data quality have to be defined. These standards should be aligned with the level of the quality of data and evidence that are utilised to make health care decisions. The lack of such standards results in discrepancy among the digital platforms, making access and interoperability very challenging. It could be assumed that high-quality data results in better health outcomes (correct and timely diagnosis, effective treatment, successful rehabilitation).

Data quality (see Module 5. Regulatory Affairs on Open Classroom) has several dimensions: timeliness, accuracy, relevance, accessibility, clarity, coherence, and completeness. Patients and healthcare professionals must be trained and informed on how to use digital health technologies to ensure to their best ability the clarity and accuracy of their data.

Standardisation is a fundamental step in creating high-quality data. Besides others Digital Health Europe has defined four categories to standardise health data [1]:

  • Information model: specifies how information should be organised. Following this step, the systems exchanging the information “can reliably anticipate what structure to expect from each other”.
  • Vocabulary/terminology standards [2]: “allow health information systems to communicate with each other by providing libraries codes which identify” each medication, disease, etc. through unique codes and classifications systems to represent health concepts.”
  • Content standards: ensure both sender and receiver who exchange the data understand “how the content is structured and what datasets they contain.”
  • Communication standards: specify “how information should flow between systems rather than how each system should organise its information internally”.


[1] Digital Health Europe. The major categories of digital health standards. Accessed June 22, 2022. https://www.i-hd.eu/health-standards/the-specifics-of-health-data-standards/categories-of-health-data-standards/ 
[2] Taxonomy? What about International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) by Who (presently as of Jan 2022 ICD 11
Or The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR)