Root causes underlying challenges to secondary use of data.
Electronic Health Records
Although one potential benefit of electronic information systems is the opportunity for secondary use of data, it is often challenging in practice to reuse data. We identify challenges to the secondary use of electronic data from a web-based project management system, and trace these challenges to their root causes. Data quality issues arose from: differential incentives for integrity of different data; software flexibility that allowed a single task to be documented in multiple ways; variability in documentation practices; variability in use of standardized vocabulary; and changes in project procedures and system configuration over time. These issues are very similar to the issues that pose challenges for secondary uses of clinical and operational data for research, public health, and quality improvement. We conclude that secondary use of operational data requires an in-depth understanding of the primary workflow processes that produced the data, as these processes lead to data integrity issues.