Survey: Healthcare lagging in information governance

Healthcare organizations must improve their information governance (IG) practices, which are an "undeniable imperative," according to an American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) white paper.

In the survey of 1,000 healthcare professionals, conducted in in partnership with records-management consultants Cohasset Associates, 35 percent of respondents did not know whether their organization had any information governance efforts underway or did not recognize a need for them.

AHIMA has set out to underscore the importance of information management from creation to disposal.

"We need to step up in healthcare as they've done in banking and retail," AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon recently told Hospitals & Health Networks. Future success, she said, will "boil down to who has the best data" and what's being done with it.

Indeed, 33 percent of respondents have not started a formal IG program. Just 11 percent said they have initiated a program and are seeing significant benefits from it.

Other takeaways from the survey:

  • Given the importance of data, IG programs in healthcare organizations are less prevalent and less mature than warranted. Recommendations: Build awareness of the importance of IG to meet organizational goals. Educate stakeholders on the benefits to interdisciplinary collaboration. Identify an enthusiastic champion to the cause.
  • Most organizations have not developed a comprehensive strategy. Recommendations: Engage executives in setting priorities. Align your strategy with organizational goals such as patient care, organizational performance and risk mitigation.
  • Information lifecycle management practices related to core functions must be improved. Recommendations: Strengthen your information-management practices from creation to final disposal. Develop interdepartmental teams to apply reasonable practices to new technologies and information types.

It's unrealistic to expect quick success, the paper warns. It requires strong cross-disciplinary participation from teams focused on privacy and information security; legal, compliance and risk management; information management, informatics and information technology. Strong sponsorship also is vital from clinical leadership and those in administration.

AHIMA has developed a range of resources to help in the effort, including a self-assessment tool, webinars, case studies, and sample policies and procedures.

Last summer, it announced a partnership with the College of Healthcare Information Management (CHIME) to work together on information governance and standards.

To learn more:
- read the white paper

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