Published On November 27, 2020
We began the 2020 education series with a presentation on change management - how change begins with each of us as individuals, even within large institutions. But we could never have predicted just how much change would be demanded of 7.5 billion people across the globe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, as the novel Coronavirus descended on us, a group of public health, medical and information scientists collaborated to write an opinion paper entitled "Global health crises are also information crises: a call to action." They asked the question, "what specific things can information professionals do to help individuals and society as a whole survive global health crises like COVID-19, deal with the aftermath, and be better prepared for the next crisis?"
In response, I believe staying true to the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles ("The Principles") allows us to answer the call to action now and in the future. Here's how:
Accountability: taking responsibility for the compliant management of records and data with particular attention given to protecting private information collected for health surveillance, whether in the office or your home.
Transparency: documenting actions taken related to how COVID-19 records and data are collected, stored, protected, shared and disposed of - and creating a playbook for future crises.
Integrity: not only does this speak to guaranteeing the authenticity of information, it also means we need to act with empathy towards our employees, vendors and customers as we all deal with the stressors of the pandemic.
Protection: with so much personal health data being collected using all manner of devices and apps, it's imperative that we know how that data flows through our organizations, ensuring it's security during each phase of its lifecycle.
Compliance: while rules and regulations related to pandemic-related records and data vary given where you are in the world, it is our mandate to make sure we do all we can to understand and enact them - and ensure we comply.
Availability: COVID-19 records and data must be made available when required by health authorities, for litigation, etc., therefore, we must know where they are stored and who has access rights.
Retention: in some instances, new records classes and/or retention rules may be required to accommodate compliant management of pandemic records, being mindful of the surge in video recordings of meetings and the use of collaboration tools and more.
Disposition: eventually, the records and data related to COVID-19 will be destroyed or archived. Certainly, data that can help us prepare for any future crisis must be retained following all protocols to protect private information.
As we come to the close of 2020, hope prevails as vaccine development, production and distribution is imminent. While this promises to alleviate the current global health crisis over time, it remains our responsibility as information management professionals to actively honor and promote The Principles to prevent information loss, misuse and non-compliance; to in fact, avoid a global information crisis.