Good staffing critical to HIE

December 18, 2013 in Medical Technology

While lots of factors have to come together to make a successful health information exchange initiative, none can work well without the proper level of skilled staffing and support – regardless of how sound its technology infrastructure might be, according to the American Health Information Management Association.

Speaking at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ eHealth Summit, this past December, Meryl Bloomrosen, vice president of thought leadership, practice excellence and public policy at AHIMA, highlighted the importance of considering current and future staffing needs of health information organizations

“While significant focus is placed on the governance, business models, policies, standards and technical infrastructure required for long-term sustainability, additional attention must be focused on fulfilling the staffing needs for trained personnel,” said Bloomrosen in a press statement.

She also emphasized the need for HIOs to have an ongoing focus on data integrity, quality and governance.

On the eHealth Summit panel, “Health Information Exchange Staffing Environmental Scan,” Bloomrosen spoke alongside AHIMA member Cynthia Hilterbrand, HIE network coordinator for the Greater Oklahoma City Hospital Council; Scott MacLean, chair of the HIMSS Board of Directors; and Charlie Rogers, CEO of Core Health Technologies and a member of the HIMSS HIE Committee.

In 2012 AHIMA teamed with HIMSS to develop the report “Trends in Health Information Exchange Organizational Staffing.” It analyzed the results of a survey of representatives from 35 HIE organizations and focused on operational strategies, current staffing profiles and anticipated education, training and hiring needs.

One finding was that HIEs needed to find skilled and trained personnel to manage certain functions such as the master patient index, as well as overseeing the privacy and security of health information maintained and used by the HIOs.

[See also: Health IT jobs on growth trajectory.]

“While the goal of HIE – to connect healthcare providers electronically in order to facilitate higher quality healthcare – is clear and constant, business models and implementation methods are continually evolving,” according to the report.

When it comes to federal, state and local HIE initiatives, “significant focus is placed on the governance, business models, policies, standards and technical infrastructure required for long-term sustainability,” the authors add, but “little attention is focused on the staffing of HIOs. This is an unfortunate oversight—even the most well-designed HIO cannot operate in a silo. It is therefore essential to consider current and future staffing needs of these organizations.”

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