Convention Q and A: Information Governance Key to Achieving Quality Goals

Health information management principles that support timely, accurate and complete data collection and release are part of the key to meeting recent National Quality Strategy goals aimed at improving healthcare service delivery, patient health outcomes, and population health.

The HIM professional’s role in meeting these goals is defined by their ability to combine emerging technologies with innovative processes, says Bonnie Cassidy, MPA, RHIA, FHIMSS, FAHIMA, vice president of HIM Innovation at Nuance. Her October 3 session at the AHIMA Convention and Exhibit will explore why HIM professionals are ideally suited to be leaders in information governance and help ensure integrity across all types of data and stakeholders. In the below Q and A, Cassidy discusses what information governance is, what’s brought it to the forefront now, and the emerging ways that HIM professionals will be involved.

First, let’s define the terms “data governance” and “data stewardship.” They’re often used interchangeably. What is the difference?

I like the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics’ definition of data stewardship: “A responsibility, guided by principles and practices, to ensure the knowledgeable and appropriate use of data derived from individuals’ personal health information, including data collection, viewing, storage, exchange, aggregation, and analysis.”

A central concept of data stewardship is accountability, which resides in a named data steward with formal responsibility for assuring appropriate use of health data, and with liability for inappropriate use. Health data stewardship supports the benefits to society of using individuals’ personal health information to improve understanding of health and healthcare while at the same time respecting individuals’ privacy and confidentiality.

Data governance, or information governance, is the high-level policies or strategies that define the purpose for collecting data, ownership of data, and intended use of data. The processes, functions, standards, and technologies that enable information to be created, stored, communicated, valued, and used effectively and securely in support of the organization’s strategic goals is information governance. Accountability and responsibility flow from data governance.

What are some of the drivers behind the increased need for data governance?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires providers to meet certain standards such as increased use of electronic health records. This requires information governance to maintain full and accurate records that are kept confidential and secure.

Can HIM professionals take on governance within their current roles? Or are there new job titles emerging that are related to data governance?

The AHIMA Core Model developed in 2011 identifies the roles of the HIM profession through the next decade and puts information governance and stewardship at the center. Future opportunities were identified in information governance related to ICD-10 and computer-assisted coding, compliance, and reporting for meaningful use audits, evidence-based medicine and knowledge management, data and information governance, managing patient identity integrity, patient advocacy and engagement, clinical documentation improvement, health information exchange, legal medical record and e-discovery, and cross venue coordination of coding and quality metric reporting. These opportunities may also include C-suite positions.

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