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AHIMA formalizes health information governance principles

The age of information governance (IG) is upon us.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has jumped out ahead of this emerging reality with a set of eight “foundational principles” for health information governance based on best practices developed across all industries by ARMA International (Association of Records Managers and Administrators).

AHIMA released the guidance measures at its 2014 convention in San Diego, part of a fusillade of activities and announcements focused on making information governance (IG) the hot-button HIM topic through 2015, with ICD-10 – while still one of AHIMA’s favorite issues – receding a bit. Imagine that.

Deborah Green, AHIMA’s executive VP and COO, informally unveiled the eight principles (the official announcement came later in the show) at a 6:45 a.m. breakfast meeting hosted for its products’ users by medical and consumer speech recognition giant Nuance Communications.

“We’re drowning in information now in healthcare organizations,” Green told the Nuance folks and their customers. “We’re not organizing it or collecting it in an organized manner. We’re not making it actionable.”

The IG foundational principles are intended to counter that by acting as a sort of constitutional framework backed by AHIMA’s considerable arsenal of tools, available from its Web site, to help HIM directors and others put the measures into action.

AHIMA is also working on 17 pilot implementation projects across the country based on the measures.

The principles are based on the concepts of accountability, transparency, integrity, protection, compliance, availability, retention and disposition.

And their chief benefits for clinical and operational information are, as defined in AHIMA’s Information Governance Principles for Healthcare™ (IGPHC) document released at the San Diego show: improving quality of care and patient safety; improving population health; increasing operational efficiency and effectiveness; reducing cost; and reducing risk.

Parallel to the IG principles, AHIMA introduced a preliminary matrix, called the “maturity model” and is also based on ARMA standards, that allows organizations, consultants, vendors and other health IT players gauge how far along an organization’s IG development is, ranging from “not started” to “transformational.”

AHIMA officials indicate they will have more to say about the maturity model in coming months.

“Data is like the air we breathe,” was how Green summed up the need for nationwide action in health information governance. “If it has not been cleaned up properly, we all end up suffering.”

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