Health information management (HIM) professionals are uniquely positioned for genetic research, according to an article in the Spring 2019 issue of Perspectives in Health Information Management. In “Genetic Variations and Precision Medicine,” the authors introduce genetic variations, including their data types, relevant databases, and some currently available analysis methods and systems. The authors conclude that HIM professionals can choose to use these databases, methods, and systems in the management and analysis of patients’ genomic data.
The authors outline how HIM professionals can use specific software tools to filter genetic variations associated with certain diseases. HIM professionals are uniquely positioned to visualize these genetic variations, perform searches in variation-disease databases to learn details about these genetic variations, and explain the results to physicians. Physicians can then design a personalized treatment plan for each patient. In this entire process, HIM professionals do not need to know the detailed implementations of these software programs and databases, but they do need to have basic knowledge of them and know how to search in these databases and use these tools. The results can be stored in the EHR so that they can be used to support the physician’s treatment decisions, clinical coding, and patient outcomes.
This article provides a brief introduction to genetic variations and as well as existing databases and data analysis software programs. Because HIM professionals have the skills for managing and processing large-scale clinical data, they may need only a minimum amount of training in genomics (such as basic concepts, frequently used databases, and data analysis programs) to be able to understand genomic data and extract desired information for clinical practice. In this way, HIM professionals can play a key role in the implementation of precision medicine nationwide.
Working on genomic data is a natural extension of the HIM professional’s typical job functions, such as managing data, performing data analysis using software programs, and protecting patients’ data security and privacy.
Jewelle Hicks is manager, publications at AHIMA.