With the advent of healthcare tracking apps and wearable technology, patients are now playing a more active role in their healthcare. This phenomenon is known as patient-generated health data (PGHD), which the US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) defines as “health-related data created, recorded, or gathered by or from patients (or family members or caregivers) to help address a health concern.”

As this information is incorporated into electronic medical records (EMRs), PGHD can provide a more comprehensive picture, since health information is collected continuously between medical visits. This sharing of PGHD leads to shared decision-making and results in improved care, helping prevent issues from being overlooked, and cutting down the number of redundant or unnecessary tests, which saves money.

As the use of PGHD continues to increase, determining how to incorporate the stream of information into EMRs, as well as how to utilize this newly minted Protected Health Information (PHI), is a top concern.

Information Governance strategies for managing PGHD

Developing a strong Information Governance (IG) plan, including a mapping strategy, is imperative to successfully incorporating PGHD into patient EMRs. Health Information Management (HIM) leaders need to talk to their teams about what PGHD should actually be utilized and how to integrate that information.

Since there are no existing standards for PGHD, healthcare organizations need to be wary of multiple sources of information, which can cause information integrity issues. Ensuring patient data comes from properly calibrated equipment is one concern. Once the information is incorporated into EMRs, the question becomes how best to utilize it.

For example, tracking weight is important for congestive heart failure patients, and sending scale readings to doctors can alert them when significant and dangerous spikes occur, prompting doctors to take action. This is where data mapping becomes key. Identifying what information is relevant will help to avoid burdening physicians with reviewing large amounts of information in a relatively short time, and will help keep patient expectations realistic.

Continued education for providers and patients

It is important to develop site-specific training for incorporating and leveraging PGHD. This ongoing training should keep team members up to date on best practices for maintaining and utilizing PGHD, as well as handling the Release of Information (ROI) for this new data. Additionally, it is important for patients to be informed not only of the benefits of PGHD, but of their responsibilities in the gathering and use of PGHD as well.

MRO will be presenting on the topic of PGHD at the 2017 annual meetings of ASHIMA, MOHIMA/ KLIMA, ILHIMA and TXHIMA. To see a full calendar of tradeshow events at which you can visit with MRO, please view our event listings.