New AHIMA White Paper Offers Insights on IG Preparedness

Among the most telling findings of an information governance (IG) survey conducted by AHIMA were the responses to the question: “What IG disciplines comprise your job responsibilities?” About 65 percent of respondents identify the privacy and/or data protection discipline as the most prevalent of their IG responsibilities. Following closely behind that was maintaining the integrity and data quality for electronic health information (EHR), according to 59 percent of the responses.

This new white paper from AHIMA and Cohasset Associates, released on July 28, takes stock of the healthcare industry’s information governance (IG) readiness, and assesses the areas in which health information management (HIM) professionals are most prepared and where they need improvement.

The survey, conducted in conjunction with Cohasset Associates and underwritten by Iron Mountain and Nuance, used a web-based tool to poll healthcare professionals working in settings including hospital and health systems, long-term care, skilled nursing and hospice, physician groups, accountable care organizations, health information exchanges, health IT companies, and the government.

The survey found that work is underway by healthcare professionals to advance IG. While there are some positive signs of improved readiness, almost one-third of respondents said there has been no progress in their organizations.

However, some hopeful findings include:

  • Twenty-three percent of survey respondents identify themselves either as the chair (four percent) or as a contributing member (19 percent) of their organization’s IG oversight body.
  • Heralding an increase in IG sponsorship, 16 percent of survey participants report that efforts are underway in their organizations to establish an IG oversight body.
  • Forty percent of respondents, however, indicate that their organizations do not have an IG council, committee, or working group, and have no plans to establish one.

The white paper also took a closer look at existing job roles that are taking on IG responsibilities. Additionally, respondents were asked whether they were prepared for their roles to transition into IG-related tasks. Although the authors point out that while the broader healthcare industry acknowledges achieving IG is a business imperative, “constituent organizations are still working to acknowledge IG advancement as a priority.”

However:

  • Quite definitively, over three-quarters of all survey participants strongly (24 percent) and mostly (52 percent) agree that their overall body of skills will support their organization’s transition to information governance.
  • While confident in their skills, the differentiation between the strongly and mostly agree responses may reflect survey participant reluctance to “declare strongly,” as they have not yet been tested in the broader enterprise IG role.
  • With less certainty, just 59 percent of survey participants strongly (18 percent) and mostly (41 percent) agree that they are qualified to educate or train others on IG principles.

“Healthcare professionals are well-positioned to market themselves as the IG transition progresses. Despite the fact that they may be viewed as performing a certain role, they can highlight their skills to be viewed as ideal for a new or broader enterprise role,” the authors wrote.

Mary Butler is the associate editor at The Journal of AHIMA.

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