How Information Governance
Improves Healthcare Outcomes
By Matt McClelland, IGP, ECMm
YOU READ ABOUT data breaches almost every day. With new
innovations and technologies on the rise, healthcare organizations must be better prepared to manage and protect their information. Cybersecurity threats like hackers can compromise
consumer, patient, and other critical data. Healthcare, like every
sector of our economy, has been under pressure to improve security and protect consumer data.
Patient records are particularly valuable because of their
worth on the black market. Indeed, journalists and security experts debate whether the value of a patient healthcare record is
worth more or less than that of a personal financial record. The
former contains critical health histories and the latter includes
sensitive information such as credit history.
But there’s no doubt that healthcare organizations, including payers, should adopt well-crafted information governance (IG) policies
to help protect patient data. Indeed, when companies have good
information management habits—when they purge unnecessary
or duplicative data, or store little-used information away from business systems—they create less “surface” for the bad guys to attack.
For payers, good IG habits help reduce the severity of breaches
and the cost of litigation. IG also helps to improve the bottom line.
For example, some payers have adopted IG to help their high-risk
members with chronic diseases as a way to improve their care
outcomes and lower costs. Often, these members would benefit
from regular care (such as nutrition counseling for diabetes) but
do not utilize the benefits. The payer’s outreach helps those patients receive the additional care they deserve and need.
Good IG Habits Help Payers Target Particular Members
By analyzing how high-risk members utilize services and by focus-
ing on how they underutilize those services, payers can target out-
reach to individuals with chronic conditions. The resulting increase
in regular preventive care (such as appropriate health screenings,
visits, and vaccinations) greatly reduces the frequency and severity
of acute and expensive episodes associated with chronic diseases.
The overall result: better outcomes for the patient and lower
operational costs for the payer. Believe it or not, in some cases
premiums have been seen to come down.
Several key initiatives such as interoperability, population health,
and payment reform are driving how the healthcare industry oper-
ates—and shifting it to a more consumer-driven industry. Health-
care organizations of all types, including hospitals, physician prac-
tices, payers, health information exchanges, vendors, and others
should practice IG to help meet the demands of the shifting health-
care industry to further advance these strategic initiatives.
The lifecycle of information often takes the information be-
yond the four walls where it was first created. Information may be
shared and exchanged with external partners and other health-
care organizations. To preserve the integrity and accuracy of in-
formation that is going in and out of the organization, all entities
should practice IG as they handle and exchange information.
A great place to start for healthcare organizations of all sizes
and complexities is AHIMA’s Information Governance Adoption Model (IGAM™), which scores and assesses healthcare organizations using 10 IG competencies.
Improving Patient Health
Providers are motivated to improve patient health and outcomes. Physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff can provide
better care for their patients by having a more holistic view of
the information they’re using. With IG, patient records are more
accurate and can be used to make trusted, timely patient care
Navigating Privacy & Security / Illuminating Informatics / Advancing Analytics / Road to Governance
Working Smart a professional practice forum