Healthcare Data Cleansing: Frequently Asked Questions

Did you know that every patient generates millions of detailed records in real-time? That’s a lot of data to collect, store, and make comprehensible. Not to mention, healthcare organizations must take special care to adhere to regulatory requirements across several different data types.

That’s where healthcare data cleansing comes in. This necessary process keeps healthcare data sets from becoming unusable which can have severe consequences. In this guide, we’ll explore data cleansing in depth by answering the following questions:

  • What is healthcare data cleansing? 
  • What causes dirty data?
  • What are the benefits of healthcare data cleansing?
  • How can healthcare organizations maintain proper data hygiene? 

Keep in mind that healthcare data cleansing requires a robust data platform that can either be built in-house by a team of analysts and data scientists or bought through a vendor. Whichever solution your team chooses, it will need to be scalable to keep up with an increase in data over time. With this in mind, let’s explore data cleansing in greater detail. 

What is healthcare data cleansing?

Healthcare data cleansing, also called healthcare data scrubbing or cleaning, is an essential part of data hygiene and refers to the process of identifying and rectifying errors within a healthcare data set. This data set is integrated from a variety of sources such as EHRs, claims systems, lab systems, and administrative databases stored within a centralized healthcare data warehouse.

How often your organization cleans its data set is dependent on several factors, including:

  • The size of your organization
  • The volume of data collected 
  • The speed at which data is collected 
  • The associated regulatory and compliance requirements
  • The desired outcomes of your collected data 

Healthcare organizations must regularly clean their data to maintain quality standards. The frequency of data cleansing will be determined by the data quality controls put in place within your existing workflows. 

What causes dirty healthcare data?

Dirty healthcare data is caused by a variety of factors that can quickly add up and cause severe system roadblocks. These factors include:

  • Duplicate data: Because data is inputted from several sources, it can be easy to incur data duplications. This slows down your data reporting and analysis processes and makes it difficult to draw meaningful insights. 
  • Inaccurate data: Data reporting errors from patients or providers can invalidate your data set and cause lasting issues that may take significant time to resolve. 
  • Incomplete data: Omissions, forgotten updates, and missing data all prevent a full patient picture which could lead to workplace inefficiencies at best and inaccurate patient diagnoses and treatments at worst. 

In a system as large as healthcare, data collection errors are bound to happen. To prevent them ahead of time, create standardized rules for accurate data entry and task team members to audit your database on a regular basis to locate errors.

What are the benefits of healthcare data cleansing? 

A clean data set can work wonders for your organization. In fact, the benefits of healthcare data cleansing can be tracked across several key measures: 

  • Operational and cost efficiency: A clean data set saves both operational time and money. This means that your team will spend less time sifting through incomplete data while maximizing your resources. 
  • Data storage efficiency: Most data is stored within a healthcare data warehouse and must undergo substantial cleaning efforts to transform from raw data to usable data. Quality measures ensure that your organization has access to a structured, organized healthcare data warehouse. 
  • Data analytics accuracy: Analytics tools help your organization visualize health outcomes which include risk adjustment analysis, population health management, and patient engagement among others. Clean data keeps these analytic reports accurate and up to date.  
  • Improved patient outcomes: Because each data point represents an individual patient, a clean data set provides the chance to improve patient outcomes at a quicker rate. Which means providers can access the right information and the right time.
  • Enhanced billing processes: Correct data streamlines the payor and patient billing process and prevents unnecessary costs. In turn, your organization can better approach financial reporting. 

The bottom line: A clean healthcare data set is essential for data-backed decision-making. With comprehensive data quality measures in place, your organization can see measurable growth across major stakeholders. 

How can healthcare organizations maintain proper data hygiene?

On the ground level, healthcare data cleansing can be understood as a series of steps or ordered processes. These steps include: 

  1. Validation: Your data must be validated for accuracy, completeness, and consistency during this initial data cleansing phase. Data analysts identify and remove discrepancies and duplications to ensure data accuracy.
  1. Standardization: Once data discrepancies are eliminated or appropriately evaluated, data analysts must standardize data formats so that they match. For instance, an analyst must ensure that a patient with a recently changed last name is accurately represented.
  1. Error Correction: Data professionals must detect and correct any remaining inconsistencies. This process may include outlier detection, data profiling, and other methods to resolve inaccuracies. 
  1. Completeness verification: Incomplete data is assessed and missing values are accounted for and properly documented using appropriate methods.
  1. Integration: Data is then consolidated or integrated from several sources into one data set (while adhering to privacy laws) also known as a healthcare data warehouse. Then, the usable data can be extracted for meaningful analysis. 
  1. Review and monitoring: Data is reviewed and monitored on a regular basis to ensure quality and accuracy measures are sufficiently met. Data audits, quality assurance checks, and external data validation are all a part of this process. 

Because this process can be involved, many organizations turn to healthcare data professionals to outsource their data collection, cleaning, and analysis. Often, data scientists and analysts are forced to write elaborate queries for unstable and untrustworthy databases, but data platforms like Arcadia Foundry can simplify several data collection and analysis processes. 

These platforms are built for analysts by analysts and are consistently enriched with clean, quality data, so organizations don’t have to rely on their own cleansing and standardization processes to extract meaningful insights. 

Maintaining an accurate, usable healthcare data set requires consistent data cleansing. If your organization decides to perform its own data cleansing be sure to follow the outlined best practices for quality assurance. If your organization decides to outsource its data cleansing to a vendor, make sure they offer comprehensive and reliable services. 

About the Author: Nick Stepro

Nick Stepro is the Chief Product Officer at Arcadia, where he leads the design of the next wave of advanced healthcare analytics applications — including Arcadia Analytics, which has been praised as having one of the best user interfaces in the industry. He has worked with large health systems and payers to design and execute on innovative clinical integration and business intelligence strategies to drive improved health outcomes and reduced system costs.
Nick believes in good design and data visualization. When combined with focused expertise in analytics, healthcare and business process, the results are intuitive data-driven applications that empower users to dramatically improve the way they run their businesses. His data visualization work has been covered on NPR, U.S. News and World Report, Medical Ethics Advisor, and elsewhere. Becker’s Health IT and CIO Review recently named him one of “31 Health IT and Revenue Cycle Whiz Kids” to watch. He has spoken at Medcity CONVERGE, AMIA, and HIMSS and has been a guest lecturer on data visualization at Georgia Tech. In December 2016, he was the closing speaker at the CCO Oregon Cost of Care conference.

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This guide explore the benefits or employee giving program for corporations.

Why Companies Should Have Employee Giving Programs

Businesses that give back to their communities receive a number of benefits in return. From improved reputations to higher employee retention, corporate philanthropy is only increasing in importance in the for-profit sector and for good reason. 

Corporate giving takes many forms, and one method in particular allows businesses to make an impact and engage employees at the same time: employee giving programs. Workplace-based giving initiatives provide employees with the opportunity to make a difference with their own two hands.

In this post, we will discuss the benefits of employee giving programs and provide examples of companies that have successfully implemented such programs. Specifically, we’ll explore:

Whether you want to update your current employee giving strategy or launch an entirely new program, this guide will provide answers to what makes employee giving so effective.

New technology has made matching gifts one of the most exciting employee giving programs. Learn more.

What are the benefits of employee giving programs?

Employee giving programs provide numerous benefits for both employees and the companies that implement them. Some of the key advantages of these programs include:

Improved Employee Engagement and Morale

Employees who can support causes they care about through their workplace are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their jobs. After all, they know their hard work is helping to support a good cause. 

Studies have shown that employees who are engaged in their work are more productive, have higher job satisfaction, and are less likely to leave their jobs. In addition, employees who can give back to their communities through their workplace are more likely to have a positive attitude and feel a sense of purpose in their work. Let’s look at some specific statistics:

The image depicts several statistics related to corporate giving, listed below.

Companies with employee giving programs are also more likely to attract and retain top talent. Many job seekers today are looking for companies that align with their values and support charitable causes, and having an employee giving program can be a key differentiator in the job market.

Boosted Reputation

Companies that practice corporate social responsibility (CSR) are generally looked upon favorably by consumers and employees alike. As discussed, employees want to work for employers they know are making a positive impact in the world, and consumers also want their hard-earned dollars to support businesses making a positive impact. 

All types of corporate philanthropy can lead to a positive reputation boost. For example, sponsorships, match grants, and in-kind donations can all help worthy causes. However, employee giving programs specifically give employees more control over which organizations receive funding, increasing their stake in the business’s CSR practices. 

In addition to making financial contributions, employee giving programs can also provide opportunities for employees to volunteer their time and skills to support charitable organizations. This is why some law firms require lawyers to work a certain amount of pro-bono hours each year. 

Although, take care in whether employees are invited to participate in employee giving or are forced to. While optional programs are likely to see less participation, required ones can lead to resentment from employees, especially if they have limited say in which causes they can give to. 

For an example of how to offer freedom of choice in an employee giving program, many companies offer matching donations or volunteer grants. Within these programs, the company matches its employees’ gifts or donates based on the hours its employees spend volunteering. The employees decide which organizations they want to support, and their employer follows suit by giving to the causes they’ve signaled they care about. 

Tax benefits

CSR programs allow businesses to do good in the world. Of course, businesses are also fundamentally for-profit organizations, and saving a bit of extra money due to their philanthropic actions is often a major motivator behind giving programs. 

Here’s a rundown of how employee giving programs provide tax benefits for both companies and their employees:

  • For companies, workplace giving programs can be a tax-deductible expense, reducing tax liability. In addition, many companies offer matching donations or volunteer grants as part of their employee giving programs, and these contributions can also be tax-deductible.
  • For employees, individuals who make charitable contributions through payroll deductions or donate as part of a matching gift program can claim these deductions on their tax returns. In-kind donations employees make by volunteering their professional services can also sometimes be claimed as a deduction. Work with employees to help them estimate the value of their in-kind donations and make accurate statements on their taxes. 

As part of your business’s corporate giving strategy, keep careful records of your donations. Request donation receipts from your nonprofit partners if they are not already providing them, and ensure the details of sponsorships and other partnership arrangements are written down and confirmed by both your business and the nonprofits you work with.

Types of Corporate Giving Programs

Corporate giving takes many forms, some of which include employee involvement. Most businesses that are serious about CSR will have a mix of philanthropic programs to meet their communities’ needs and be responsible corporate citizens

Let’s take a look first at corporate giving programs that have an element of employee giving:

The image depicts the types of corporate giving programs, listed below.
  • Matching gift programs allow employees to give more to the causes they care about. In a matching gift program, an employee donates to a nonprofit of their choice. Then, they submit a matching gift request to their employer reporting the donation. If the application is approved, the employer makes an equal contribution to the nonprofit. At a few exceptional companies, they’ll even donate double or triple the employee’s initial gift. 
  • Volunteer grant programs allow employees to lend their time to the causes they care about and contribute financially through their employer. Essentially, employees volunteer and then report their hours and any other necessary details, like the nonprofit’s tax ID, to their employer. The business then makes a donation either on a per-hour basis or after a certain hours threshold has been reached. 
  • Payroll deductions are the most convenient type of employee giving. Employees agree to be part of an automatic deduction program and have a portion of all future paychecks donated to a nonprofit unless they later ask to opt out of the program. 
  • Grant stipends differ from matching gifts and payroll deductions by providing employees with the money to donate instead of asking them to reach into their wallets. Businesses provide funds specifically to be donated, and employees then give them to a cause of their choice. 

These programs engage employees and let them have an active say in what causes are supported. Of course, there are many other worthwhile corporate giving opportunities unrelated to employees that a company might pursue. These include: 

  • Corporate foundations are charitable organizations that are established, managed, and funded by companies. Essentially, these foundations are nonprofit organizations with corporate backing. Some provide grants to nonprofits, while others plan and launch their own mission-based initiatives. As an example, The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation is managed by Ben & Jerry’s and awards grants to advocacy groups.
  • Charity brand lines are a form of sponsorship wherein a company works with a nonprofit to develop a specific product or service and pledges to donate a portion of sales proceeds to the nonprofit. Shop-for-a-cause programs like this focus simultaneously on helping nonprofits and driving sales since socially conscious consumers are more likely to buy a product if they know it supports a good cause. 
  • Sponsorships involve companies providing support to nonprofit events, programs, or initiatives. This support can be financial gifts, in-kind donations, or marketing assistance. Sponsorships can also be one-time deals or ongoing partnerships based on the agreement between the nonprofit and the corporation. 
  • Impact investments are a process wherein companies invest in nonprofits or socially responsible for-profit organizations. The investment funds provide support for the organizations to get their programs off the ground, and the company generates a financial return.

Last, there’s one type of corporate giving program that fits in the middle of this venn diagram: 

  • In-kind donations can involve employees or be entirely managed by the company. For example, mission-driven businesses that provide software nonprofits use often have free or discounted subscription options for nonprofits. This form of corporate philanthropy does not involve employee giving at all. However, in-kind donations also include professional services, like consulting, accounting, photography, graphic design, and coding all rely on volunteers, which will be the business’s employees. 

Which type of corporate giving is right for your company? The answer depends on numerous factors, such as employee interest, which nonprofits are interested in working with your business, and what resources you have available to spend on philanthropy. 

However, if we had to pick a favorite, we would single out matching gifts as the best type of employee giving program. 

An In-Depth Look at Employee Matching Gifts

With over 26 million individuals working for companies that offer matching gift programs, employee matching gifts have the capacity to make a major impact. For your program, determine what causes you want to support through matching gifts, which of your employees are eligible, and how much you intend to give. 

For instance, one company might make only full-time employees eligible for matching gifts, but they may pledge to match all gifts at a 1:1 ratio with an annual cap of $10,000. In contrast, another company might open up its matching gift program to part-time and retired employees but enforce a narrower range of gifts between $50 to $2,500 and exempt donations to educational and religious institutions. 

However you decide to organize your matching gift program, you can access benefits like:

  • Flexibility. Depending on their employer’s restrictions, matching gift programs allow employees to decide which causes they want to give to, when they make their donations, and how much they give. While placing limits on your program can channel employees to support specific causes, keep in mind that as restrictions go up, participation goes down. 
  • Potential for automation. Matching gift technology is advancing fast, and businesses using CSR software with matching gift auto-submission technology can enable their employees to complete their matching gift requests in seconds. All they need to do is turn on the feature, and employees will get the option to have their request automated when they give to nonprofits with matching gift software.  
  • Easy management. Once you kick off your matching gift program, it essentially runs itself. Businesses just need to regularly take two actions. They need to approve matching gift requests and routinely promote the program to remind employees to participate. 

Interested in what matching gift programs look like in action? Here’s how matching gift programs have played out at a few companies whose names you might recognize: 

  • Microsoft. Microsoft’s employee giving program, known as the Microsoft Employee Giving Program, encourages participation by having a donation minimum of just $1. Both full and part-time employees can participate, and almost every type of nonprofit organization is eligible for a matching gift. 
  • Coca-Cola. Most employers have a 1:1 matching gift rate, but Coca-Cola wants to make its employees’ donations go even further with a 2:1 rate, effectively tripling donations. 
  • Johnson & Johnson. Both current and former employees at Johnson & Johnson can increase their donations. Current full and part-time employees receive a 2:1 matching rate, while retirees still get a standard 1:1 ratio. 

Overall, employee matching gift programs can provide numerous benefits for companies and their employees. By offering such a program as part of their employee giving programs, companies can increase the impact of their employees’ charitable giving and enhance their reputation as socially responsible organizations.

Do even more with matching gifts by leveraging auto-submission technology.

How to Implement an Employee Giving Program

The first step in implementing any CSR program is deciding that now is the right time. You have the resources, a philanthropic mission, and you’re pretty sure that your employees will be happy to participate. Now you just need to plan your implementation. 

While details vary depending on your program of choice, here are the five steps most companies will take to launch their new employee giving program:

The image depicts the steps companies take to implement an employee giving program, written out below.
  1. Identify the causes that are most important to your employees. As the name implies, your employees drive your employee giving program, so make sure it’s focused on causes they want to support. Conduct a survey or hold focus groups to find out what causes are most important to your employees. If opinions are divided, consider a program like matching gifts allowing each employee to make their own giving decisions. 
  2. Offer a range of giving options. There’s no need to limit yourself to just one type of employee giving. For instance, many companies that offer matching gift programs also support volunteer grants. Refer to the causes and types of activities employees indicated interest in from your initial survey.
  3. Invest in the right CSR software. Choose a CSR platform with the tools you need to run your program. Most CSR software comes equipped with features to record employee volunteer hours, manage matching gifts, and provide employees with information about donating through your company. However, different vendors focus on different aspects of CSR, so be sure to research platforms and request demos before making any final purchasing decisions. 
  4. Provide clear and concise information. To ensure that your employees understand your employee giving program and how to participate, provide clear and concise information about your new program. This includes providing guidelines on eligible charities, making donations, and claiming tax deductions. Make these resources easily accessible, such as adding them to your employee handbook. 
  5. Promote the program to your employees. Some employee giving programs, like payroll deductions, require minimal active participation from employees. Others, like matching gifts, are entirely at employees’ discretion. Make sure employees know about your giving program by providing regular reminders and updates whenever you make a major difference for a nonprofit. 

By following these steps, you can design and implement an employee giving program that engages your employees and supports the causes that they care about. This can help your company positively impact your community and enhance your reputation as a socially responsible organization.

Additional Employee Giving Resources

Employee giving programs provide numerous benefits for both employees and the companies that implement them. These programs can increase employee engagement and morale, help companies meet their CSR goals, enhance their reputations, and provide tax savings for both the company and its employees.

Of course, the CSR world is vast, and this overview is just one perspective. To learn more about employee giving before launching your own program, read a few of our favorite resources: 

Create a better matching gifts process for employees. Discover if your CSR software has auto-submission functionality. Contact Double the Donation.

Panelist Tech FAQs

This article will explore the basics of legacy giving for nonprofits.

Legacy Giving – Nonprofit Catalog

Legacy giving is a unique fundraising opportunity that can be ongoing like other development work, such as seeking major gifts or grants, and can also access an untapped source of donations. This type of gift is important to your donors who want to leave a lasting legacy and positive impact on your mission as it allows them to give larger donations at a future date.

Before you plan how to incorporate legacy giving into your fundraising strategy, let’s review the basics:

What is legacy giving?

Legacy giving, or planned giving, is a donation that has been incorporated into the donor’s financial or estate plan, usually to be given after they pass away.

This is typically a large donation that can provide significant funds to a nonprofit and tax benefits to the donor or the donor’s family. Legacy gifts or planned gifts are often unrestricted, although donors can specify particular programs or projects that their gifts will need to go towards.

These are the common types of legacy gifts.

Types of legacy gifts

Legacy gifts are unique in that they’re non-cash. In other words, they’re given out of assets or overall estates rather than day-to-day income. Donors can often give larger planned gifts than they’d be able to purely out of pocket. There are numerous ways to plan a gift to a nonprofit, so there are options to accommodate each situation. Consider these key types of legacy gifts:

Bequests: A legacy gift where the donor includes a nonprofit in their will, leaving a portion of their estate to it.
Retirement plans and life insurance: A legacy gift where the donor leaves their unused retirement assets to a nonprofit or names the nonprofit as the beneficiary of their life insurance policy.
Charitable gift annuities: A legacy gift where the donor gives a large donation in exchange for a fixed income payment.
Retained life estates: A legacy gift where the donor transfers ownership of their property to a nonprofit but retains the right to use it until the set term is up.

Only a donor can decide which type of legacy gift works best for their situation, goals, and plans. Make sure your supporters understand their options so they can choose and customize their gifts accordingly once you start a conversation with them about planned giving.

Legacy giving FAQ

Who is eligible to give a legacy gift?

Anyone is eligible to give a legacy gift, but people who have a will, life insurance policy, property, or other significant assets are more likely to give. Because there are so many types of these gifts, the parameters are wide, but these donors at least have to have something to give. Donors with proven wealth make ideal first prospects, but even lifelong savers who might not otherwise be on your radar as top prospects can make significant legacy contributions if you put in the work of developing your relationships with them and explaining the impact they could have.

To narrow down this donor pool, you might research a prospect’s involvement with your cause, such as past giving or volunteering. You can also survey your supporters to learn more about their interest in legacy gifts and your organization. Some of your supporters might have already included your nonprofit in their will.

What is the most common type of legacy gift?

Bequests are the most popular type of legacy gift. They’re typically easier to arrange than other gifts, since wills are easy to update. Providing easy-to-use estate planning tools to your bequest prospects can help you secure more planned gifts.

Many people may choose to give via bequest but won’t tell your nonprofit about their gift. This is why a survey can be helpful to identify existing donors or people who might be interested in planned giving.

Why are legacy gifts important to the nonprofit?

Nonprofits benefit from legacy gifts financially. These donations can be considered long-term income for a nonprofit because they promise future funding that can be projected and planned on to support future growth. They can also be invested in some cases to return even more funding.

It’s a gift that will support the nonprofit for years without requiring extra expenses from the nonprofit, making planned giving among the highest-ROI fundraising activities. Rather than hosting a gala, for example, nonprofits might secure legacy gifts by simply making their supporters aware of planned giving as an option and reaching out to prospects to discuss it. It’s a promise of future funding that can come from nearly any supporter at little or no cost to your organization.

How does a legacy gift benefit the donor?

Depending on the type of legacy gift, donors might not feel the financial effects of giving in their lifetime. Because they don’t interrupt daily cash flow, they provide an opportunity to give a large gift to a cause the donor is passionate about. Leaving such a gift can make the donor feel like they’ve left an impactful legacy.

The reduced day-to-day burden is helpful, but there are also financial incentives to legacy giving. Some gift types, like bequests and charitable remainder trusts, offer significant tax benefits for donors and/or their heirs. The donor is given the flexibility to develop a planned gift that best suits their financial situations and desired outcomes.

Legacy giving gives control to the donor in more ways than one. Not only can the donor choose which type of gift they’d prefer to give, but they can also decide what’s done with that gift. For example, in a bequest, the donor might allocate their money to a specific cause or project.

How can nonprofits start promoting legacy gifts?

Even if you have a clear understanding of legacy gifts and the potential impact they would have for your organization, your supporters might not. The best way to promote legacy gifts is to make donors aware of their options.

You might find opportunities to bring up legacy giving in conversations with top prospects, or you might send out communications to your supporter base specifically about these types of gifts. No matter what, make it as easy as possible for your supporters to explore their options and plan their gift. Offer easy to use tools for creating bequests, like Freewill. Over time, you can develop a dedicated planned giving program that sources, cultivates, and stewards new legacy gifts for your nonprofit.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

Nonprofit Marketing – Learn more about the basics of nonprofit marketing and how to structure your marketing strategy.

A Guide to Planned Giving – Take a deeper dive into planned giving and how to get started.

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