Health IG Professional Readiness: Big Picture Predictions & Perspectives

Topics: Health Information Governance

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Leading Industry Experts Provide their Unique Insights on Health IG Professional Readiness

By Nancy Twombly, Senior Manager of Healthcare Solutions, Iron Mountain

The seismic shifts that are occurring across the healthcare industry are causing significant disruption to the status quo – but this massive change is also creating significant opportunity for HIM professionals.

In today’s increasingly complex healthcare landscape, HIM professionals are faced with the task of managing an ever-growing volume and variety of information – distributed across multiple locations. This information has always been critical to deliver effective patient care, but now there is a need to leverage this information to provide new insights, and support strategic initiatives like Population Health and Accountable Care.

As the information landscape evolves, so too must the Healthcare Information Management Professional. In the initial Healthcare Information Governance: Predictions and Perspectives eBook, authored by thought leaders from healthcare and other industries, we spotlighted some of the key challenges and strategies related to Healthcare Information Governance. As part of this inaugural eBook, the authors provided unique insights on how health organizations can accelerate their governance journey to help achieve their organization’s strategic goals.

In this new eBook, focused on Professional Readiness for Healthcare Information Managers, we feature the predictions and perspectives on the new opportunities open to HIM professionals from some of the leading experts in the industry. Both those within the healthcare industry and those with a cross-industry perspective provide their unique viewpoints on the ways that HIM professionals can prepare for the new healthcare landscape.

Throughout this eBook, we feature strategies that health organizations can use to enable their personnel with the skills to drive IG-related programs forward. The series will also highlight some real-world examples of organizations who have successfully undertaken initiatives to expand the HIM and IT roles, advancing the cause of IG professional readiness.

There’s no limit to the opportunity out there for today’s Health Information Management Professional. With an established skill set in health information quality, security, and workflow, the HIM professional has the ability to take the lead in driving IG initiatives in this new information-driven health landscape.

Be sure to check out the following chapters of this eBook to learn best practice strategies from industry leaders at the forefront of leading the transformation to the new world of Health Information Governance.

“Who’s on first?” .. . Evolving Roles in Information Governance

Deborah Green, RHIA, MBA
Executive Vice President/Chief Innovation and Global Services Officer
American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

As I contemplated starting this blog, the title popped into my head. And, as I type the title, I wonder how many readers will remember the famous Abbott and Costello bit, “Who’s on First?” Well, “Who” was on first base, “What” was on second base and “I Don’t Know” was on third.1

I see some parallels with the focus (both inside healthcare and in other industries) on “Who” is going to be in “What” role as Information Governance (IG) takes shape and settles in as part of the organizational fabric. While I wish we could focus more right now on promoting IG and getting executive sponsorship for this important cross-industry imperative, framing IG for any given organization quickly clarifies roles and the coveted “leading role” for IG.

Roles in IG are evolving, as has been made clear in the 2015 white paper by Cohasset and AHIMA on the second survey on IG in Healthcare. This survey was partially underwritten by Iron Mountain and Nuance and it focused on “Professional Readiness and Opportunity.”2 The valuable insights on how roles essential to governance are being handled, help to inform next steps with regard to shepherding these evolving roles, while the results on adoption and sponsorship point to the increased traction that IG is getting in healthcare.

First, the pure number of respondents is encouraging. There were 1260 respondents, or about a 26% increase over the number of respondents in the initial IG survey completed at roughly the same time in 2014. We are all bombarded by surveys, yet 1260 professionals took the time to contribute to the body of understanding of current state readiness and needs of professionals!

Second, very encouraging evidence of support for IG includes results indicating that 36% of the respondent organizations have appointed senior leaders of IG. This is significant, when compared to results of an international, cross-industry survey by Capgemini in early 2015,3 in which 33% had appointed an IG leader. This certainly counters an assumption frequently asserted that healthcare is “behind” other industries in IG adoption. Other encouraging evidence is that 44% of the respondents report that IG oversight bodies are established in their organizations and 23% indicate that they are contributing members to, or are chairs of these bodies. An additional 16% indicate that oversight bodies are forming. This is great! This means that 60% of the respondents are in organizations who either have, or are establishing, IG oversight bodies!

Third, 89% of the respondents identify AHIMA as their “go-to” source for guidance on IG, referencing resource materials and educational programs in particular. A majority of respondents (69%) were familiar with the AHIMA IG definition put forth in 2014. Continued focus on IG awareness and content development, we believe, is helping to create the traction we are beginning to see.

With the survey concentration on current state roles, the findings underscore, not surprisingly, that moving IG forward requires the work of multiple disciplines; IG is too expansive to be advanced by a single discipline or role. The survey tool identified twelve disciplines of IG, and results reflect that role across a mix of disciplines is common. The most frequently cited role in the mix is health information privacy (65%), followed by EHRs information integrity and data quality (59%), and the management of physical health information or other records (52%). The responses also show that 24% – 41% have greater focus on specific disciplines, in the following order of frequency: data management (including master data management and identity management), information security, legal holds/e-discovery, business continuity, data governance, business intelligence and analytics, and vendor contract management.

The picture painted by these statistics emphasizes the breadth and depth of IG, and the absolute necessity that multiple disciplines are included. Individuals working in these disciplines to develop and promote IG should be recognized for their contributions to the important changes afoot. I believe the results also make clear and reconfirm that with technology advances, jobs and roles change ... they evolve, and information governance will require evolved versions of today’s roles, and these roles will be many and vital.

The 30+ page white paper contains further valuable signs of current discipline-specific and collective strengths on which we can build to advance IG. Results also identify opportunities to develop expertise in IG and increase recognition of disciplines working to advance IT. Please be sure to download and read this publication.

AHIMA’s IG work and the IG Piloting underway are offering resources for the evolving roles of IG. Our IG Toolkit,4 due for release to AHIMA members via our Body of Knowledge, contains example role definitions and descriptions, among many more resources for operationalizing IG. We look forward to sharing these resources and to receiving further contributions to our IG Toolkit from pioneering healthcare organizations.

On the subject of role definitions for IG, other cross-industry voices on information governance5 who are addressing the leadership role are saying that the IG leader should come from the business, should appreciate the information needs of the business, and understand how to exploit the value of the organization’s information assets. A draft position description for IG leadership from the Information Governance Initiative includes individuals with expertise and experience in records and information management as candidates for IG leadership.

So, “Who’s on First?” I believe that those who focus more on crafting and promoting the “What” are more likely to become the “Who” in the many evolving roles of information governance.

Download the full eBook here


1 “Who’s on First?” Abbott & Costello, 1953. This has become a comedy classic. Please take a stress relieving break and watch a clip of it on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTcRRaXV-fg
2 Cohasset Associates and AHIMA “Information Governance in Healthcare: Professional Readiness and Opportunity.” ©2015 Cohasset Associates. Free download available from AHIMA IG Resources: http://www.ahima.org/topics/infogovernance/igbasics?tabid=resources
3 Ralf Teschner, Capgemini Blog, 3/12/15 – CDO=IS+IG+IR+IE 4 AHIMA IG Toolkit™. Released to AHIMA members 8/31/2015 via the AHIMA Body of Knowledge as a member benefit.
5 “Other IG Voices” as referenced this blog refer specifically to ARMA International (arma.org), the Information Governance Initiative (iginitiative.com), and to IG blogs by Capgemini’s IG Blogger, Ralf Teschner. See especially March 2015 blogging on c-level IG leadership. https://www.capgemini.com/blog/insights-data/author/ralf-teschner-13716 AHIMA wishes to recognize and thank ARMA International for the permission to use the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles® for adaptation and creation of the Information Governance Principles for Healthcare™ and for reference in the development of the related maturity assessment models. (arma.org)