AHIMA shows value of data governance

September 24, 2014 in Medical Technology

This past summer, AHIMA launched what it calls the first major survey taking stock of healthcare’s information governance practices. Its verdict? There’s lots of work to do, with huge troves of data but not much strategy for using it all wisely.

[See also: Better info governance is 'imperative']

Barely one-third of healthcare organizations – some 35 percent – have comprehensive plans in place for information governance, according to poll. AHIMA officials say that’s not good enough for a healthcare industry that, now more than ever, depends on the lifeblood of data for its clinical and financial health.

AHIMA’s 2014 Benchmarking White Paper on Information Governance in Healthcare: A Call to Adopt Information Governance Practices acknowledges the very real challenges most health organizations face in dealing with their data, but also offers tips and strategies for how they can better govern their ever-growing stockpiles of patient and claims data.

[See also: AHIMA calls for improved health IT governance]

That study – and the lessons it can teach – will be front and center at the AHIMA Convention and Exhibit, which takes place Sept. 27 through Oct. 2 at the San Diego Convention Center.

“We are leading an initiative to promote the adoption of information governance in healthcare – not just providers but other organizations who are information intensive organizations in healthcare,” Deborah Green, executive vice president and chief operating officer of AHIMA, tells Healthcare IT News. “In Day 2 of the general session, we’ll be unveiling our proposed framework for governing information in healthcare.”

In July, AHIMA announced its partnership with the Information Governance Initiative; as the first healthcare group to join forces with the consortium and think tank, it will work with IGI leaders to campaign for better data management practices industry-wide.

“As health information professionals, AHIMA and its members are keenly aware of the need for healthcare to govern its information,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, in a July 22 statement announcing the alliance. “Trust in health information and high quality patient care depend on it. We’re delighted to partner with the IGI and look forward to collaborating on initiatives that advance IG for all.”?

Information governance is a means to set up the policy-level rules, investment priorities and accountabilities for managing the “lifecycle of information,” according to the AHIMA white paper.

Smart IG strategies emphasize the value of information as “a critical asset for healthcare transformation,” the authors add, helping to improve organizational performance “through proactive compliance, the effective use of information and by controlling costs. IG advances trusted information, essential for patient engagement and for public and community health.”

Nonetheless, such data governance is still fairly new for healthcare, AHIMA officials point out. Many facilities have programs in place devoted to specific spheres, such as privacy and security policies, but the survey showed that most have yet to develop organization-wide information governance programs.

While privacy and security policies were in place at 50 percent of organizations, for example, more specialized IG programs, such as information preservation policies (30 percent) and information deletion and destruction policies (26 percent) were more rare.

In a pre-convention session on Sept. 28, “Making the Case for Information Governance in your Organization,” Lesley Kadlec, AHIMA’s director of HIM practice excellence, will lead a panel of other healthcare information management professionals in a discussion of how to make the case for better data governance practices, offering tips for emphasizing its importance to decision-makers.

As Gordon noted in a press statement upon the IG survey’s release, “I encourage my colleagues in the C-suite to make a comprehensive information governance strategy an organizational priority. It’s easy to think it can be put on hold or maintained in one department while executives deal with other challenges, but this is a mistake. Developing a strategy should be a collaborative effort and is essential to realizing the benefits of governance.”

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Article source: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/ahima-shows-value-data-governance

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