New Term to Watch For: Data Liquidity

Let’s talk about the new term, “data liquidity.” No, it’s not some new physics concept. For those of you in health information technology, it’s a term you may begin to hear.

As the industry lurches forward trying to connect the many unique health information systems (EHRs, CPOE, eRx, disease registries, HIEs, etc.), there is a push to standardize and streamline information, so all the systems can talk to each other.

Hence—make data more “liquid” so it can easily flow from one system to the other. This is clearly a necessary step to realize the goals of increased patient safety, better population health, and decreased health system cost.

One huge hurdle that has yet to be satisfied is the privacy and security controls to prevent unintended consequences of all this “open access.” As data becomes more liquid, the potential consequences of a breach grows exponentially, since the volume of data flowing within the entire system is considerably higher.

At this point, I don’t think anyone has the “right” solution—both sides are passionately arguing their position—on the surface, fully integrated systems that allow for the free flow of information sounds like the absolute right answer. What makes privacy advocates cringe are the unintended consequences and potential abuse that could occur if information falls into the wrong hands.

They argue that people need to have the power to restrict where their information flows. I don’t have the answer—but you should be aware of the issue and get involved in the debate.