and information technology.” 8 AHIMA has previously stated
the importance of people in the healthcare industry, in particular that “people will always be central in harnessing the
power of information to tear down barriers to better health.” 9
This very idea is critical to understanding the relationship
between analytics and HIM. Data analytics is simply a skill
that can be used to transform data into information, which
can be used to improve decision-making. This is central to the
work of HIM professionals.
HIM professionals are the aforementioned “people” who
should be “harnessing the power” of data to transform health.
There is no other profession that owns analytics. Health information professionals have a responsibility to leverage what
we consider the “most powerful currency” in our industry. It
is our job to transform ourselves in order to transform healthcare and the overall health of the populations we serve.
Clarifying Data Analytics for HIM Professionals
A question that continues to arise in the field of HIM is “What
is the difference between analytics and informatics?” Let
us be very clear on this topic: data analytics and informatics are not two separate disciplines. Similarly, data analytics
and health information management are not two separate
disciplines. Data analytics refers to a set of skills used by individuals to drive meaning from data—typically, raw data.
Healthcare data analytics has been defined as “the practice
of using data to make business decisions in healthcare.” 10
Data analytics cuts across all professions and disciplines.
It is not unique to HIM, informatics, computer science, or,
for that matter, banking, aviation, or cartography. The tech-
niques and procedures used to carry out different analyses
are drawn from statistics, mathematics, computer science,
sociology, and philosophy, among other entities. So in this
way, data analytics and informatics are not two separate dis-
ciplines. The two are interrelated. HIM professionals (and
informatics professionals) rely on data analysis to carry out
the basic functions of their various roles and responsibili-
ties. However, health informatics professionals are often re-
quired to have more advanced skills in data analytics. Some
of these functions use complex analytical procedures like
machine learning and other data mining techniques. Others
use inferential statistical analyses to demonstrate statistical
differences while others use more basic descriptive statistics
and visualization methods to summarize information. These
techniques are not contingent on credentials in one profes-
sional association or another.
The CEE’s work to promote higher levels of competence in
analytics among those graduating from accredited academic
programs is exciting. Domain III of the 2018 curricular competencies includes multiple standards related to analytics
at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Additionally, the
data management track at the associate level supports the
enhancement of data analytics skills. Managing health information in an electronic era requires foundational skills in
data acquisition, extraction, preparation, and use in multiple
electronic formats. The new curricular competencies provide
flexibility for academic programs to leverage the skills of their
faculty and the relative needs of their primary industry partners to create curricula that has the most impact.
Analytics is Part of HIM
The ultimate takeaway is that analytics is not somehow removed from core HIM skills. Instead, it is a core HIM competency. There is not “analytics for the HIM profession,” but
rather analytics for “harnessing the power of information to
tear down barriers to better health.” Because analytics and
HIM practice are inseparable in today’s environment, the skill
of analysis needs to be seen as a priority. Individuals need to
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