Patient Portals on the Rise
Initiatives this year will change how EHRs
are used, how their data are shared, and
the rules of how their data may be shared.
One example is the growing implementation of patient portals.
Portals offer patients secure access to
select information maintained in the facility’s EHR. More facilities will explore
portals to aid their release of information efforts and meet
meaningful use requirements related to easing patient access to
While patient portals may cut down some manual release of
information work, managing the portal and ensuring data remain accurate and confidential will remain an important and
time-consuming job for HIM professionals.
The rise in portals is creating the new role of patient portal
manager, Warner says. This position, which is expected to grow
in 2012, is in charge of managing the information being sent out
via the portal, helping patients access their information, and ensuring portals remain private and secure.
Portal managers also respond to patient requests for changes
to their records.
When portals are opened to patients, HIM departments typically see an increase in correction requests. Some of the requests are legitimate, such as correcting an incorrectly recorded
date of birth or a broken arm mistakenly documented on the left
side rather than the right. But other requests can be frivolous or
unnecessary, such as a patient claiming he or she weighed five
pounds less than recorded during a routine check-up the previous year.
While larger facilities have hired patient portal managers,
smaller facilities with fewer resources may roll portal duties into
existing HIM roles.
“I do see that being a big management piece because especially in large facilities you could be getting a lot of requests,”
HIM professionals at organizations that participate in HIEs
and ACOs will also be busy working on EHRs. With more data
flowing in and out of EHRs, organizations will be working to
make their information less fragmented and more searchable
Data governance will become increasingly important as large
amounts of internally and externally generated data amasses in
systems. Time spent sorting and merging patient records will
increase, and organizations will require rules and processes for
minimzing the impact.
Following fundamental professional tenets, however, will help
make the changes manageable.
“The fundamental rules of health information management
are the same at our core. We still need to do what we have always
done, it has just changed formats,” Warner says.
The New Bottom Line: Data
Each of these trees in the forest share a common connection—
they all require reliable data.
Managing data for stewardship, analytics, reporting, and care
will be more important than ever this year, AHIMA’s experts say.
This makes 2012 the “year of data”—creating data, managing
data, and using data.
“Data is the new bottom line for organizations,” Rode says. “It
is taking on a life of its own, and IT doesn’t have the background
to look at the governance or functional aspects of data. That is
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ value-based
purchasing rules will be released in May and take effect in Oc-
tober. This is just another step in the march healthcare is tak-
ing from claims-based reimbursement to pay based on quality
measurement—pay that is based essentially on data. The more
accurate and managed a facility’s data, the better their reim-
“People are going to have to leverage the data and use the data
that they have available,” says Rita Scichilone, MHSA, RHIA,
CCS, CCS-P, director of practice leadership at AHIMA. “That is
what’s going to make the difference between success and fail-
Never before have data been so closely tied to reimbursement.
HIM professionals will need to strengthen their data analytic
skills in order to handle the pay-for-performance initiatives cur-
rently developing, as well as the initiatives sure to come.
“Members will need to understand data analytics and statistics a little better and know how to apply some of these data
modeling and data analysis techniques in practice,” Scichilone
As healthcare leans on data to help solve its problems, it will
learn something HIM has known for years—data integrity currently isn’t what it should be. Throughout 2012 this problem will
get more attention, placing HIM squarely in a position to help
find solutions and finally leverage EHR data for a better, cheaper
healthcare system, says Michelle Dougherty, MA, RHIA, CHP,
director of practice leadership at AHIMA. It will also raise HIM’s
profile within organizations.
“Maybe, finally, we will have a forum that is interested in hearing and understanding what these data integrity issues are and
put some attention to fixing them so the real value [of EHRs] can
be addressed,” Dougherty says.
ACOs: Three Reasons to Care
Click to play
AHIMA director of practice leadership Lydia Washington, MS,
RHIA, CPHIMS, offers three reasons why accountable care organizations matter to HIM, explaining how ACOs will change