More Protected Health Information (PHI) and other data is coming in and going out of healthcare organizations than ever before. Electronic medical records (EMRs) and numerous electronic devices make accessing and exchanging information much easier than with paper. But it’s also easier to disclose PHI to an unauthorized recipient, resulting in breach that can be costly financially, but also to an organization’s reputation.
This challenge—among many others—has spurred the adoption of Information Governance (IG) programs across organizations. Protecting patient information and mitigating an organization’s risk, however, are only two reasons why implementing an IG program at your organization is so important.
Crucial to implementing an IG program is having the right technology and a knowledgeable team in place, which we’ll explore in this blog post. But first, a little background about IG.
HIM becoming the IG leaders
In 2014, AHIMA laid out its eight IG principles, described in greater detail here. The overriding theme across these principles is that organizations need to implement consistent, standardized policies and procedures surrounding the access, disclosure and management of information across their enterprises.
To achieve this, collaboration with the CIO, HIT, Compliance and other senior executives is essential, but HIM can lead in helping design and implement an IG program. Why? Because HIM has the most applicable knowledge base and experience in ensuring consistent policies and procedures around managing PHI and other information.
Additional expertise HIM leaders can share are best practices to educate other departments on compliant information access and disclosure. This leadership role should institute a continual effort to address gaps and ensure compliance with the organization’s IG program. HIM leaders also have insight into the technology that can help protect data integrity and prevent breaches.
How technology supports IG
As centralized policies are developed and communicated, technology solutions can be implemented to help manage information in a coordinated manner across the enterprise. One such tool available to support an organization’s IG efforts is MRO’s IdentiScan®, which uses optical character recognition technology to search medical record content to identify and correct comingled records containing information for multiple patients. Correcting comingled records prior to Release of Information (ROI) can prevent a PHI breach, but more importantly, it can protect patient safety and improve quality care by ensuring that providers are reviewing the right data for the right patient.
Eliminating mixed records using this automated validation process can noticeably enhance overall accuracy. For example, one large health system we assisted utilized eight full-time employees just to perform quality reviews of their charts at the point of patient discharge. Even with this extra layer of focused manual checks, IdentiScan detected more than 350 instances of comingled patient records, in addition to what the healthcare organization’s staff found over the course of nearly two and a half years.
Integrity is one of AHIMA’s primary IG principles, focusing on eliminating errors and ensuring accuracy. IdentiScan also supports organizations in helping follow most of AHIMA’s other IG principles, including Protection, Compliance, Availability and Accountability. However, advanced technology alone won’t help organizations achieve their IG goals. Technology is only a tool that supports a knowledgeable, highly trained staff of HIM experts. This staff can help organizations achieve the AHIMA IG goals of helping to improve patient safety, care quality, interoperability and organization-wide efficiency, among others.
Schedule a no-obligation demonstration of MRO’s IdentiScan today to learn how our technology can protect your organization’s data integrity and mitigate its breach risk.