- Only 60% of healthcare organizations have a formalized EHR governance policy in place, says a new report from HIMSS Analytics, and just 63% of those organizations include a multi-disciplinary advisory board or committee to monitor, suggest, and approve changes to the data governance strategy.
As providers are tasked with drilling deeper into their EHRs with Stage 2 Meaningful Use, and more providers turn to EHR data as a starting point for healthcare analytics and population health management, a lack of well-defined data governance principles may make an already difficult task seem even more impossible.
“How organizations make decisions around enhancements to EHRs, including implementation can dramatically impact their ability to meet regulatory measures and create workflow efficiencies,” said HIMSS Analytics Research Director Brendan FitzGerald. Some of the biggest challenges identified by the 238 C-level executives, quality directors, physicians, and other managers included strategies for physician engagement and adoption, the participants said.
EHR adoption is about much more than implementing a system and training clinicians to type their notes instead of writing them by hand. The enormous stockpile of electronic data produced by EHR systems can be a treasure trove for clinical and financial analytics – but only if the data is clean, comprehensive, flexible, and organized. In order to create useful data banks, organizations must start off with a clear and well-communicated governance structure that details what the organization’s goals are and how to achieve them.
“Healthcare organizations know that they can’t do business as it’s always been done,” says Shane Pilcher, Vice President at Stoltenberg Consulting. In order to meet the challenges of regulatory initiatives like Meaningful Use, as well as quality and readmissions penalties leveraged by CMS, organizations need to ask themselves some serious questions about their data.
“The first thing they must do is identify their governance processes,” he says. “Who owns this information? Who has access to it? How do they make sure the data they’re collecting is there when they need it?” To answer these questions, organizations need to have a multidisciplinary team that’s responsible for not just knowing about governance, but also for leading business intelligence analytics.”
As they develop governance structures, providers must also keep in mind critical workflow issues, like copying and pasting information in EHR charts, says AHIMA, in order to develop realistic but effective controls for data quality. “The knowledge, skills, and expertise possessed by health information management (HIM) professionals should be leveraged by policy makers, healthcare providers, and EHR system developers to provide practical solutions to information integrity, management, and governance challenges, including on EHR functionalities such as copy/paste,” the organization suggested in a recent brief.