Management across healthcare is looking more and more at the collection and use of data. Striving to improve healthcare is foremost in the minds of leadership, governments and society as a whole. We have the ability to collect, use and digest health information data so we can make positive impacts to healthcare improvement as leaders in Health Information Management.
Healthcare is moving faster and faster into the data driven and data focused world. Leadership and Management need to continue to be transparent and demonstrate honesty as the speed for the need of data is accelerated. Decision making relies on healthcare data so it is the responsibility of Health Information Management (HIM) professionals to see that this happens.
In the United Kingdom their government department of Health and Social Care has a phrase that can help put things into perspective, “Better, broader, safer: using health data for research and analysis.” There is also a very good article from the BMJ Publishing group, titled “Using data for improvement”, this article provides some great insight into different healthcare data that we can use, and interpret (I’ve provided a link to this article in my references). This particular article outlines the range of health information data that we need for understanding healthcare improvement:
Patient level — such as blood sugar, temperature, blood test results, or expressed wishes for care.
Service level — such as waiting times, outcomes, complaint themes, or collated feedback of patient experience.
Organization level — such as staff experience or financial performance.
Population level — such as mortality, quality of life, employment, and air quality.
We know that there are many different categories of healthcare data that provide insight and value to our goal of improving healthcare. There is the “Patient Level Data”, often referred to as clinical data. There is financial data, linking costs and/or charges to items, tests and services provided within the healthcare encounter and clinical data from coding.
The analysis of the data can and is a huge component to achieving healthcare improvement. Health information management (HIM) professionals can really bring to light many opportunities within the data world. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers a credential in data analytics that is available to obtain. There is great promise for healthcare data analytics in aiding healthcare to be more proactive rather than reactive to the challenges of disease outbreaks, chronic disease prevention and management, financial success and even improve healthcare compliance and ethics.
Since the electronic health record (EHR) is now providing an ocean of data and information, we should take advantage of this. When we put the data in front of people and ask for feedback, questions, thoughts, we will ignite solutions and improvements. HIM leaders need to make a decisive decision to bring data into our work routine and our meetings routinely. Determine what should be shared and when. This can be a whole new world across the healthcare continuum if we acknowledge that data is and can be used and be useful. Let’s pull data, review it, analyze and discuss it on a regular basis and really start to make recommendations that will drive accuracy and achieve healthcare improvements.
We’ve seen data greatly impact healthcare around HIV, Diabetes, Opioid health issue and of course with COVID. Without working to improve data and ensure accuracy, advances and overall positive impacts cannot occur.
For those of us HIM professionals, we have seen the collection and importance of data grow rapidly. One big example that is occurring today is the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) data. This is a huge under reported section of healthcare data. This data can assist payers, providers, and all of healthcare. Now would be a good time to discuss SDOH data with Clinical Documentation Integrity (CDI) and Medical Coding professionals and identify gaps and opportunities.
Take the specifics of clinical or medical coding and the data these functions produce. Leadership and Management needs to obtain and use the medical data to help improve data accuracy but also to help better manage staff and ultimately to assist in healthcare improvements that have positive patient outcomes.