AHIMA highlights necessity of health informatics programs in era of big data

Dec. 14, 2017

With an ever-expanding amount of data in healthcare and government initiatives aimed at ensuring organizations use data to make informed business decisions, a strong informatics program is essential to guarantee data is consistently accessible, accurate, and actionable.

In its new Informatics Toolkit, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)  outlines the importance of health informatics—a growing field in the industry—and provides insights, resources, and tools for health information and informatics management (HIIM) professionals who are developing or integrating an informatics initiative within their organization.

As defined by AHIMA, health informatics is a collaborative activity that involves people, processes and technologies to produce and use trusted data for better decision making. Health informatics professionals are essential to advancing technologies and the continued use and evolution of electronic health records (EHRs) because they are the professionals that understand all data collected.

Today’s healthcare systems create massive amounts of data which when used can, among other aspects, improve care by helping clinicians make informed decisions. The AHIMA informatics toolkit shares details of the various components to informatics, tools to use for analysis and best practices for implementing a program. The topics addressed include:

  • Data analysis and utilization, defined as the process of systematically applying statistical and logical techniques to describe, illustrate and evaluate data.
  • Data reporting, defined as the process of identifying and validating data as well as building and designing reports.
  • Data Quality Management, defined as the business processes that ensure the integrity of an organization’s data during collection, application, warehousing, and analysis. The toolkit outlines how Data Quality Management (DQM) cannot effectively be maintained without the support of an information governance program, which is also dependent on protocols put in place by a DQM.
  • Ensuring the privacy and security of a patient’s health information throughout the lifecycle of data as paramount to the integrity of health information.
  • Management of health information systems and processes, including insights and a list of consideration when upgrading a current health information system or implementing a new one.
  • Database management, including how to analyze databases to ensure accuracy.
  • Health informatics training, including considerations when developing programs to train clinicians on documentation and help desk personnel on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.
  • Project management, including a list of key players that should be assigned to every project and a samples project plan template.

The toolkit is free for AHIMA members and can be found online in AHIMA’s HIM Body of Knowledge and on AHIMA’s web store.