Health Information Governance Lags Behind Other Industries

Information governance programs are not as prevalent or mature in healthcare compared to other industries, according to preliminary results of a benchmarking survey by the American Health Information Management Association. 

In the survey, only 11 percent of respondents characterized their information governance as "mature" programs. Also, a mere 17 percent of healthcare organizations had mature policy and procedure practices in place. In addition, 35 percent of survey respondents either didn't know whether their healthcare organizations had information governance efforts underway or indicated that their organization did not recognize the need for information governance, while 22 percent acknowledged the need but didn't yet initiate a program.    

Though the full results of the survey will not be made publicly available until the end of May, AHIMA officials speaking at a May 19 eHealth Summit hosted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provided the audience with some initial findings. The data was collected in March and April 2014 based on more than 1,000 survey respondents. 

Deborah Green, AHIMA's chief operating officer, said that AHIMA members represented a little more than 20 percent of survey respondents. "We tapped into databases of provider organizations. We also reached out to organizations like HIEs, ACOs, and payers," said Green. "We went after individuals who were in the C-Suite." Acute care settings represented the majority of survey respondents.

Meryl Bloomrosen, AHIMA's vice president for public policy, claimed it is the first-ever nationwide information governance survey for the healthcare industry. AHIMA partnered on the survey with Cohasset Associates, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in records management and information governance, Bloomrosen said. 

AHIMA has adopted Gartner's definition of information governance: The specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to ensure appropriate behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archiving and deletion of information and the processes, roles and policies, standards and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.

"In healthcare for a while now we've been focusing on health data mostly, and what we're trying to share with you is our perspective on how information governance is really the umbrella over all information within the healthcare organization, not just the data that are captured in the electronic or paper record," Bloomrosen said. "If you think through the types of information that are collected--personnel files, HR files, health record files, purchasing data, employment data, suppliers, providers, financing--all of this needs to be governed."

A recent study by HIMSS Analytics found that only 60 percent of healthcare organizations have formalized electronic health record governance structures in place, with 63 percent of those structures involving a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary advisory board or committee. Physician/clinician engagement and adoption were seen by respondents as the most significant EHR governance challenges.

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