On Sunday, health information management (HIM) leaders gathered at the Information Governance Leadership Forum in Baltimore, MD, to explore just what encompasses information governance (IG), why organizations should invest in IG, and how successful organizations are getting started with IG.
AHIMA defines IG as an organization-wide framework for managing information throughout its lifecycle and supporting the organization’s strategy, operations, regulatory, legal, risk, and environmental requirements.
IG seeks to improve quality, patient safety, and population health by bringing together information resources and aligning them to strategic and operational needs. Healthcare data is expanding exponentially and the volumes cannot be ignored. With the right governance strategy, information from that data can help healthcare professionals make the right decisions across every area of a hospital/organization. This includes areas close to HIM professionals—including classification of information, records management, and ensuring privacy and security.
As part of the IG Leadership Forum, attendees discussed how an “Adaptive Leadership Framework” can help HIM professionals address IG challenges in their organization. Adaptive leadership is a practical framework that helps individuals and organizations adapt to quickly changing environments, like healthcare, by being able to focus on gradual but meaningful change processes.
During the meeting an Adaptive Leadership Focus Group identified IG leaders’ top priorities for running a successful program, including: educate members and stakeholders on IG; collaborate and cooperate to break down silos; demonstrate the value, relevance, and importance of IG; create IG resources and grow the body of knowledge; and communicate and share stories, discussing the importance of IG.
Focus group member Valerie Watzlaf, PhD, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA, associate professor, department of health information management, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, shared that one key to breaking down silos within a healthcare organization and fostering information governance is to replace isolation and competition with cooperation and communication, an idea discussed in a 2014 Forbes Insights article “Breaking Down Marketing Silos.” Building relationships is not something that happens overnight and takes years to develop, she added.
Ann Meehan, RHIA, director of information governance at AHIMA, introduced the panelists and explained that healthcare organizations that have performed an IG maturity assessment have been able to move much more swiftly with information governance. AHIMA’s Information Governance Adoption Model is an example of an assessment of IG maturity. Since IG is such an all-encompassing effort, assessment helps organizations to determine which projects take priority.
Sally Beahan, RHIA, MHA, director of HIM at UW Medicine, explained how her organization was able to use the maturity assessment to focus on information governance areas with the highest benefits. UW Medicine’s IG program really started with looking at projects “in flight” and determining how they could create IG quick wins in the organization.
Jaime James, RHIA, system director, HIM at Banner Health, discussed how her organization evolved from an enterprise information management program into an IG program. Banner is using the results of its IG assessment to create an IG roadmap for the organization.