Analytics and Informatics Turn Data into Information Assets

A roundtable presentation on health information management (HIM) data analytics and informatics at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) was a highlight of the educational sessions on Monday. The presenters of the roundtable were Pamela Heller, MSHI, RHIA, CCS-P, FAHIMA, Shelley Weems, MSHI, RHIA, CCS, and Beth Acker Moodhard, RHIA, all employees of the VHA. The presentation began with an interesting discussion on the differences between the generations and how to best manage those differences in the workplace. It is vital when working with people, processes, and data to have a basic understanding of certain metrics related to work ethic, views on authority and leadership, and preferred communication techniques and learning methods.

Attendees were introduced to the Veterans Affairs’ Enterprise Information System. It is a vast infrastructure encompassing shared databases, many applications, the computerized patient record system, and commercial software. The various data warehouses are fed data by regional data servers. The data are recognized as business assets and used to make predictions by the exploration and extraction of observations, analysis of the data, and then determination of action to be taken to generate solutions and implement change.

The data types used for analysis are clinical, administrative, claims, and employee. Data are used for many purposes, such as clinical care, reimbursement, research, reporting of key metrics, and as tools to identify opportunities for process improvement. “The data provides information and can tell a story,” Weems said.

The VHA uses their data to shape and standardize processes.

For example, they utilize their data for benchmarking purposes. Coding department data is used to determine the number of outpatient encounters not yet coded and the amount of time taken to code encounters in the outpatient area.

The presenters explained how patterns in the data can be revealed through data analytics and ways to continue to monitor and measure metrics. “Let the data speak for itself,” Weems said.

The point driven home at the roundtable was data analytics can be used to tell a story. Health information management professionals have always worked with various types of healthcare data and need to recognize the skills they have in working with this data.

Important metrics such as health record completeness, coding accuracy, coding completion, and mortality and morbidity are monitored by most healthcare organizations. Leadership counts on data to identify trends and patterns. Visualization on organizational dashboards is becoming the norm, and the data must be trusted and accurate, the presenters said.

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