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Healthcare Orgs Increasingly Value Information Governance

Eighty-four percent of surveyed healthcare organizations are familiar with information governance, according to AHIMA.

Healthcare organizations are increasingly prioritizing information governance.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- More healthcare organizations view information governance (IG) as a business imperative rather than a buzzword, according to a recent survey from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

AHIMA presented these findings in a February white paper titled The Pulse on Information Governance in Healthcare.

AHIMA gathered responses from 1,500 healthcare professionals from July to August 2017 to gain insight into the level of IG adoption across the industry. The association also surveyed respondents about their current knowledge of IG, their views on the drivers for IG, current barriers to IG progress, and project priorities for IG, among other areas of interest.

Survey respondents included both clinical and nonclinical leaders in management and staff positions at hospitals and health systems, clinical practices, home health agencies, health IT companies, public health agencies, and universities.  

Researchers found IG awareness among healthcare professionals is high, with 84.6 percent of respondents reportedly familiar with IG. Furthermore, 74.6 percent of survey respondents reported being familiar with AHIMA’s specific definition of IG.

While IG awareness is high among healthcare professionals, few have implemented a formal structure for IG. Only 28 percent of respondents reported having established formal structures for IG such as councils, task forces, or steering committees.

Progress in prioritizing IG is also reportedly limited among surveyed healthcare organizations. Only 15.1 percent of respondents reported making significant progress toward prioritizing IG over the past 12 months, while 31 percent stated their organization had made minimal progress toward this end. Furthermore, 25.9 percent reported IG is not considered a priority at their organization at all.

Still, nearly half of surveyed healthcare professionals stated their organization was making at least modest to significant progress in prioritizing IG, with a total of 43.2 percent of respondents reporting a fair amount of progress. 

For those organizations that do value IG, the biggest driver for IG was reportedly data analytics and business intelligence. The second-most compelling driver for IG was the need for quality data.

“Fifteen percent of respondents say they are driven by the need for quality, trustworthy data,” stated AHIMA in the report. “Data are the building blocks of information and strong data governance, within a framework of IG, is essential to a mature IG program and to enabling trust in information.”

Certification and accreditation was the fourth-biggest driver for IG, while regulatory compliance was notably one of the least significant motivators. While some healthcare professionals view regulatory pressures as a way to drive industry-wide health IT and health data improvements, AHIMA’s survey suggests regulation plays a minor role in motivating widespread IG adoption.

Ultimately, respondents reported the most significant remaining barrier to IG is a lack of IG understanding and awareness.

“More than 51 percent of the respondents identified awareness/understanding to be one of the barriers to IG,” wrote AHIMA. “In fact, the remaining identified barriers, with the exception of budget/funding, are related: understanding/awareness, communication/cooperation, and organizational culture.”

“Concerted efforts to raise awareness while identifying return on IG projects and the relation to industry and organizational drivers can help to mitigate not only the awareness and communication/cultural barriers, but the budget and funding barriers as well,” the association continued.

Fortunately, IG awareness and understanding appear to be improving.

“There is increasing recognition of IG as an important initiative in healthcare and of AHIMA as a leader in the promotion of IG within the healthcare industry,” stated AHIMA.

As part of its report, AHIMA also included the following recommendations to healthcare organizations interested in implementing an IG program:

Implementing an IG program can help ensure healthcare organizations are able to deliver safe, quality care using reliable data. 

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