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Health Information as an Asset

March 6, 2013
by John DeGaspari
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Need for information governance grows as healthcare changes

Healthcare organizations need to manage the information they collect like an asset to ensure it is trustworthy and actionable. According to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), information governance is the necessary framework to help do that.

In a  presentation today AHIMA’s Senior Director of HIM Practice Excellence Lydia Washington and AHIMA member Sandra Nunn defined information governance as an accountability framework and decision rights to ensure effective and efficient use of information across the organization to achieve its goals. This is an emerging issue to meet the needs of healthcare today. 

“The ways that we pay for healthcare will change dramatically in the next few years,” said Washington. “To survive, health systems, hospitals and doctors all have to start changing the way they manage and use the information they collect. Accurate and timely information will be the greatest asset to drive successful and serious healthcare organizations in the next five to 10 years.”

Washington and Nunn outlined the need for organizations to move from managing data in silos to taking a more integrated, collaborative approach with Enterprise Information Management (EIM). Information governance provides the framework for EIM. 

“EIM is an opportunity for departments to work together to establish common definitions that eventually lead to data that can be acted upon,” said Nunn. “She said that organizations can use this information to develop models for purposes such as to predict staffing and resource costs. In her view, information governance will create the necessary policies and processes to ensure the best data is extracted and maintained for organizations. 

EIM is driven by the needs for different types of information:

  • Organizational memory and records for patient care and for compliance, business and legal needs
  • Operational efficiency for patient quality and safety, productivity and competitive advantage
  • Cost and value.

“It’s important to recognize that information can be expensive to store and maintain, and not all of it has the same value – some is redundant, outdated or trivial,” said Washington. “Making the decisions on the value of information is a big part of information governance.”

The executive level needs to drive the changes to make sure information governance is an integrated effort across the organization, Washington said. She added that an estimated that 85 percent of healthcare delivery organizations today have weak or no enterprise information management efforts in place, although that is expected to change in the next two to three years.