Keep up with the latest on information governance as this key strategy emerges for addressing a myriad of information management challenges in healthcare. This blog will highlight the trends and opportunities IG presents for ensuring information is treated as an organizational asset.
By Nicole Miller, MS, RHIA
Deciding to move forward with an information governance (IG) program is a big step for organizations. Regardless of the size or complexity of an organization, an IG program can bring a number of benefits and improvements to an organization’s current structure and workflow processes. It is important that the IG program is primed to be successful by directly aligning with the organization’s strategic goals and through careful and collaborative planning. There are several other approaches that organizations may take to achieve success and a program that actually “sticks.” One of the critical steps is effective communication and training on IG for the entire workforce.
Support and communication from enterprise-wide stakeholders as well as senior leadership within the organization will begin to convey that IG is imperative and that compliance with IG initiatives is not optional. When employees recognize that there is support for IG and the employees can understand the “what and why” of IG, they will be more likely to be compliant and adhere to IG policies and processes to facilitate the program’s success. Employees naturally want to do a good job so transparency from leadership and an understanding of the reason(s) IG is being implemented and how it will benefit not only the organization, but also themselves, will allow for workforce adherence to come more naturally.
Although IG may initially bring more work to the employees, in the long run, they will see several workflow improvements and drastic changes in the quality and accessibility of data and information they use every day. IG is a collaborative effort that must be embedded in the culture of an organization. Once adopted culturally, IG won’t seem like an extra burden, it will seem like an initiative that is worthwhile and influences positive change organization-wide. Employee productivity will rise and returns on investment will surface all over the place, both tangible and intangible. But first, we have to build up the culture through effective communication and training to get there.
There are many approaches to workforce awareness and adherence when implementing IG. The following are some basic tips on how to best do that.
The best place to start is with ongoing communication: first explaining the overall program, then describing individual IG projects, the scope of the projects, how to accomplish each project, how each individual will be involved, and how they will be positively affected. Communication can be through email, newsletters, internal social media sites, bulletin boards, or in-person meetings. The more transparency and communication the better. Employees will start to engage in IG and can contribute thoughts and suggestions for current and future projects.
Employees like to stay in the loop. It is important to allow for active involvement from the employees to provide feedback or suggestions on projects they are a part of. This empowers employees to think critically and make a difference in the organization through IG. The more stakeholders actively involved and invested in IG, the easier it will become part of the culture.
Set clear goals and milestones that align with the goals and strategy of the organization. Meaningful—not to mention achievable—goals will encourage the employees to strive to achieve those goals. Clear and consistent goals and metrics will ensure the projects are within reach and that the employees understand what they need to do to get there. Goals that are out of reach or are unrealistic will cause resistance to change and frustration among employees.
Break IG into Small Pieces
We can’t boil the ocean with IG. There is a lot to do but it doesn’t all need to be done at once. It is recommended to break IG into small and manageable pieces. When there are several big changes going into effect all at once, resistance to change may also occur here. Doing it in pieces allows for a smoother transition into IG. It allows for employees to see changes and progress on a smaller scale that will demonstrate how great the impact will be on a larger scale. Piece by piece, the IG program will make a difference and the organization will transition to be more data-driven.
As those goals and milestones are achieved, no matter how small, be sure to celebrate and let employees know how much they are appreciated for their hard work in bettering the organization. Celebrate when a new policy and procedure is developed and shared with the workforce. Celebrate when new initiatives are properly implemented. Celebrate when the employees see the improvements in their workflows. Celebrate when costs are avoided, money is saved, and risk is mitigated. Whatever it may be, it is always important to celebrate the “wins.” Each win will contribute to the whole and help to sustain the IG program for the long term.
Measure and Monitor the Changes
It is important along the way to always be measuring how the changes are affecting the organization, allowing for the employees to see the difference their work is making and where the organization should continue making improvements. Setting realistic, achievable, and meaningful goals will set the parameters for meeting those goals. Using meaningful metrics will be important to actually measuring progress. As each project is completed and monitored, and success is measured, organizations should be benchmarking progress to visualize how much IG has impacted the organization and where. Role-based accountabilities should be in place to ensure compliance and change is enterprise-wide.
Sticking the Landing
IG may often seem daunting for an organization, but it doesn’t have to be. Through careful and strategic planning, stakeholder involvement, ongoing (and effective) communication, and the right approach to tackle each IG project, organizations will be better positioned for success. Employee awareness and adherence to use IG hinges on communication, active involvement, breaking the IG program into small pieces with achievable goals/milestones, celebrating successes, and measuring progress. All of these pieces will foster a data-driven culture and an enterprise-wide understanding of the value of IG. IG won’t be seen as a burden for the organization if it is embedded in the culture. In fact, it can even be fun if the organization makes it so. IG is a team effort and keeping everyone in the loop will keep the IG program in forward motion.
Nicole Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org) is principal, Miller and Millar Associates.