Does use of computer technology for perinatal data collection influence data quality?
Population health data, collected worldwide in an effort to monitor mortality and morbidity of mothers and babies, namely, perinatal data, are mandated at a federal level within Australia. The data are used to monitor patterns in midwifery, obstetric and neonatal practice, health outcomes, used for research purposes, funding allocation and education. Accuracy in perinatal data is most often reported via quantitative validation studies of perinatal data collections both internationally and in Australia. These studies report varying levels of accuracy and suggest researchers need to be more aware of the quality of data they use. This article presents findings regarding issues of concern identified by midwives relating to their perceptions of how technology affects the accuracy of perinatal data records. Perinatal data records are perceived to be more complete when completed electronically. However, issues regarding system functionality, the inconsistent use of terminology, lack of data standards and the absence of clear, written records contribute to midwives' perceptions of the negative influence of technology on the quality of perinatal data.