Definitions, components and processes of data harmonization in healthcare: A scoping review

In this 2020 review article published in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, Schmidt et al. detail the state of healthcare data harmonization (DH) literature, analyze commonalities among various DH terms, and determine “the causal relationship between DH and health management decision-making.” Noting the value of organizing and integrating healthcare data in order to strengthen many aspects of how the healthcare system runs, the authors lay out the methodology and results of their scoping review of the topic. The group had three primary objectives: identifying the key components and processes of healthcare DH, synthesizing the various related definitions of DH, and documenting relationships between DH interventions and healthcare management decision-making. They conclude that “health information exchange” is the most commonly used term among seven key terms, and that there are nine vital characteristics to making DH work well. They also add that DH, when conducted well, positively contributes to clinic, operational, and population surveillance decision-making in healthcare settings.

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