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Beginning an Information Governance, EHR Optimization Project

Adequate planning and maintenance are critical for an information governance project, ultimately boosting an overall EHR optimization project.

By Sara Heath

As healthcare technologies like EHRs are near ubiquitous throughout the industry, IT leaders and providers alike are charged with the task of wading through a vast sea of data. In order to make such store of data more manageable, organizations should consider implementing a robust information governance (IG) initiative.

Information governance projects can help create better standards for data, as well as improve the way health information managers and other health professionals use the data. Despite these benefits of information governance, only about 35 percent of health organizations have IG protocol, one study has found.

This statistic needs to change, experts say. Information governance projects are necessary for delivering higher quality healthcare and making physicians’ lives easier.

An IG initiative may be easier said than done, however. Where does an organization begin an information governance initiative? And how do they carry one out?

Below, EHRIntelligence.com has outlined the steps for creating and carrying out a strong information governance initiative to better facilitate EHR optimization.

Identify need for information governance

Foremost, organization leaders must identify why they need an information governance program, and pinpoint their target area.

For many, information governance programs stem from a need to better sort health data. Likewise, many healthcare organizations begin to develop these plans in tandem with EHR optimization or implementation projects.

According to the American Health Information Management Association, healthcare organizations should consider beginning or revamping an information governance program in the following situations:

  • When new information systems are anticipated to be selected or replaced
  • When organizational changes are imminent, such as acquiring or merging with another organization
  • When cost cutting initiatives are required
  • When new care and payment models requiring new and different data and information are implemented
  • When process improvement is undertaken

Of course, healthcare organizations aren’t limited to these situations to implement an information governance program. However, because many of these situations entail an overhaul of health data use, they present an excellent opportunity of boosting efficiencies.

Create an action plan

Next, healthcare organizations should create an action plan to determine the direction in which they want to take their information governance program.

Much like an EHR optimization project, IG initiatives will drive organizations to a more efficient end. Project leaders should identify inefficiencies and problem areas in order to determine the best possible path forward.

Experts say that, in general, IG plans and EHR optimization projects should work to solve one central issue: how can health data become more useable? At an IG AHIMA panel last year, panelist Kenneth J. Withers, deputy executive director of the Sedona Conference, said understanding that challenge is the best way to convince individuals on the business side of the hospital to invest in IG.

“Your mission should be maximizing the value of your information,” Withers said. “You can have all the metrics you want, but what’s going to make the difference in selling data governance and information governance to CEOs is maximizing the value of information.”

Monitor and reassess information governance initiatives

Once the information governance plan has been executed, it is important for hospital leaders and information managers to keep an eye on how it affects health data use.

Information managers should be quick to identify new problem areas where more – or less – information governance is necessary. As healthcare organizations collect more patient data, for example, hospital leaders will need to focus on how to make sure they are interoperable between disparate technologies.

While maintenance efforts may not coincide with EHR optimization projects, they will help boost the usefulness of the EHR because they continue to make fixes to some of the minor issues providers face with the technology.

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