The importance of information integrity in records management

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Stressing the importance of information integrity is an essential element of any document management or information governance program. Without integrity, nothing has value, including individuals, businesses and information.

November 1, 20177 mins
The Importance of Information Integrity in Records Management-  Abstract image of people at work

Integrity presumes trust, and trust is always earned, never simply granted. Individuals without integrity may lie, cheat or steal, while businesses without integrity are seen as untrustworthy and their products and services deemed meaningless. Information without integrity may mislead or deceive and cannot be trusted.

Determining the validity of information

In an age where information is widely available, it is difficult to determine whether information is valid or correct. Any Internet search can turn up dozens of differing opinions, studies and documents about a topic that all claim to be accurate. A document has integrity when nothing has been altered, added or deleted; it represents exactly what was created by its author. Organizations can only control information they create and manage; thus, they have the opportunity and responsibility to protect the integrity of that information.

A great example of understanding the importance of information integrity in healthcare records management is the Association of Healthcare Documentation Integrity. This association was founded to champion excellence in healthcare documentation and advance patient safety through precisely capturing patients' health story.

Law firms require document specialists in litigation to support, maintain and prove the authenticity of a document. Healthcare organizations and law firms have become the businesses with the greatest need for information integrity specialists. Proving document authenticity in courts of law requires a chain-of-custody process that validates how evidence has been gathered, tracked and protected. Document integrity specialists validate the proper chain of custody by assuring others that the information is what it purports to be and has been in their possession or was transferred without being altered.



About 29 percent of organizations say they have a big data initiative already, while another 6 percent planned to have had one before the end of 2013. Meanwhile, 14 percent are evaluating whether they have a big data problem and how to deal with it, according to a report titled " Information Stewardship: Moving From Big Data to Big Value."


Information stewardship

Several years ago, the concept of information stewardship gained momentum in information technology (IT) circles. This notion requires maintaining information integrity that is protected by policies and rules to prove that the information and data is true and correct. Information stewardship should be the responsibility of everyone in an organization. It encompasses the responsibilities associated with managing, using, storing and sharing information. Companies, healthcare providers or law firms can create an atmosphere of information integrity by emphasizing its importance.

What to look for in records

Information integrity is a critical issue in document governance. Integrity policies should prevent accidental or malicious changes or the destruction of information, a concept that has long been recognized as important in the IT industry. However, the concept of integrity is somewhat difficult to understand. To ensure integrity, organizations should make sure their documents, information or data are:

  • Accurate and free from error or defect
  • Consistent with a standard, rule or policy
  • Unmodified and never changed in form, meaning or character
  • Consistent and uniform over its life cycle
  • Used only by authorized people using authorized processes
  • Include an audit trail that tracks its life cycle

Assuring the integrity of information in an enterprise is one of the many responsibilities of the IG manager. In order to remain compliant and uphold the trust of the public, organizations should consider partnering with a third party to help ensure their records are being properly managed and maintaining their integrity.

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