Data entry is a tedious but important task, as far as any business is concerned. It also has its risks, as it is prone to errors. Though modern techniques have reduced the number of errors to a great extent, they are still happening. A proper mechanism to monitor data quality and address challenges is gaining importance as data accuracy is vital for businesses.
Accuracy of data is important for successful data management and in strategizing business policies and procedures. Erroneous and inaccurate data can be the reason for unpredicted results and serious consequences. Mistakes may happen due to the wrong figure being used; data entered incorrectly, data not being updated, and data being excluded. These issues can be addressed to a certain extent by regular monitoring and checking, assessing and planning, and by implementing quality control measures.
Data Entry Error at NHS Borders
A recent report highlighted a data entry error that occurred at NHS Borders. The temporary error in its data entry system was identified and fixed; it is said that the error affected the treatment time guarantee (TTG) for many patients.
The affected group had treatment agreed, and were already added to the waiting list. As a result of the error, out of the 1767 patients listed for treatment,
- 38 were treated beyond their statutory TTG
- In 20 cases the time delay for treatment was 4 days or less
- In 11 cases the impact of the delay was between 4 and 7 days
- The maximum delay was 11 days
Out of the patients who have yet to receive treatment, approximately 60 cases are currently at risk of exceeding their TTG during January or February. However, to minimize the impact of this issue, NHS is stepping to discuss and fix the date, directly with patients. Moreover, every patient whose guarantee date has been affected has been sent a letter of explanation and apology from the Board.
Common Reasons for Data Entry Error and Measures to Address It
Errors can happen due to a variety of reasons including transposition or transcription. Transcription errors usually happen when the operator hits the wrong key or accidentally enters the wrong data, while typing fast. Other reasons for wrong data entry includes transposition (19 becomes 91), copying (0 (zero) becomes O during data entry), coding (improper coding due to changes in the coding scheme), and consistency problems. Errors can be minimized using a variety of techniques including:
- Check for the range and consistency of data
- Analyzing data
- Performing manual checks during data capture
- Validation of entered data
- Organizing data in databases to avoid repetitive entry
- Implementing automated provisioning (monitored by humans) to enter critical business data
Even though errors while entering data cannot be eliminated completely, it can be reduced to a certain extent by adopting some of the above mentioned measures.