Nurse's hands typing on keyboard

3 Considerations for Health Information Management

26 Feb 2016 by Shay Moser

It is expected that $1 trillion of the $3 trillion spent on healthcare will shift to new players and business models; which could have devastating consequences for incumbents, according to the author of this Forbes article. Though most of healthcare isn’t at this point yet, all of the models that will reshape it are active, and many are thriving. “Naturally, that brings unprecedented opportunities to the new players … and devastating consequences for incumbents,” writes the Forbes contributor David Chase.

Checking up HIM today

“The traditional HIM department of an HIM director managing medical record systems and staff including HIM professionals, privacy officers, coding staff and release of information, could drastically change in the next decade.” This was according to Linda Kloss, RHIA, CAE, FAHIMA, president of Kloss Strategic Advisors, based in Chicago, and author of the 2012 paper, "Health Information Management in 2016.”

Since then, healthcare has continued to transition from fee-for-service to value-based delivery and payment, creating wrenching change in the marketplace and funding. According to PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI), 2016 will be a year of firsts for players within healthcare as the industry adapts to the main forces driving the New Health Economy: the rise of consumerism, the focus on value, downward pressure on costs, technological innovation and the impact of new entrants.

“After more than a decade of identifying the top health industry trends, we are finally starting to see the creation of a New Health Economy — a health system that is more connected, transparent and patient-centric,” says Kelly Barnes, PwC's U.S. health industries leader. “2016 will be marked by how well the sector balances greater demand with rising costs, and handles trends such as industry consolidation and the increase of consumer technology in healthcare. But there is much more work that needs to be done in forging new ways of receiving, paying for and delivering care, and it will be businesses that prioritize addressing consumer needs and increasing value that should succeed.”

To succeed, providers must redesign and reinvest in health information management (HIM) for both today’s and tomorrow’s demands.

Examining HIM tomorrow

HIM department changes show no signs of slowing down. Jane Duckert, the HIM director at UW Health as well as an advisory board member for the University of Wisconsin Health Information Management and Technology (HIMT), shares in thisHIMT article technology and staff changes from her 36-year career at the academic health system.

“I can’t imagine anything bigger than EHRs [Electronic Health Records] happening in the future,” she says. “It really changed the department and the skill level required by our staff.

“The health information managers and leaders of tomorrow must be proficient in managing remote staff, including transcriptionists, scanners and indexers; data governance, or the overall management of availability, usability, integrity and security of health data; and problem-solving and the ability to work well with others on a team, including collaboration with information technology specialists and others within the organization.”

Resolving HIM risks

“With data aggregation becoming easier and faster, healthcare professionals have to be able to make decisions rapidly,” says James Horgan, head of strategy and design for BlueMetal, an Insight company. “Problems arise in the analysis and display of data, where some insights can be missed.”

When visualizing your data, James says three things should be considered:

Less is more. Often the instinct is that once we’ve gathered all the data, it’s important to show all of it. But understanding the context of what you’re seeing — coupled with the context of the needs of the health professional viewing the data — is vital to design a visualization that gives powerful insights. In simple terms, the provider wants to see, for example, the top two reasons patients are given a test for diabetes. So on his dashboard that’s all he should see with some flex to dig deeper. The experience should answer the question first rather than forcing him to hunt because of overwhelming information.

What is important to the user? Often, data is simply accessed, but not necessarily leveraged in a way that is meaningful to healthcare executives. Your data platform is something that needs to be designed by your own specific needs and what you hope to gain as a healthcare organization. For example, the design of a patient viewing their own healthcare record needs to be vastly different than the experience of a provider viewing the same data.

Connect the dots. A piece of data on its own does not give you the full story; how that data flows through time can tell you just as much if you connect the dots. For a healthcare business that focuses on reducing re-admittance of patients, historical and environmental data is important to overlay with a patient’s healthcare needs to gain the full picture of what factors contribute to re-admittance. This could include time of day and year, patient symptoms, provider team mix and more.

In this article, author Chris Dimick wrote, “The year 2025 will still require privacy and security experts, data analysts, health information managers and information release experts. But 13 years from now, HIM will likely perform those roles in vastly different ways than in 2012.”

One thing we’re seeing is HIM beginning to handle those responsibilities differently this year. Healthcare professionals must start to embrace these technological industry changes now and become pioneers in new and adapted HIM roles. Otherwise, they risk being wiped out by 2025.