As the director of health information management, there are many roles and responsibilities that fall under my portfolio. However, to sum up my role in one general statement, I am responsible for the management of all information health systems in the hospital including ensuring the security and integrity of these systems. I ensure that the existing systems are utilized as per the set state and federal guidelines and that the manipulation of health information by these systems is secure and also abides by the relevant guidelines. I am also responsible for ensuring the health information systems at my current workplace are up to date and are, therefore, functioning effectively. There are however many other sub-roles that fall within my portfolio as a director that would take a long time to describe.
As part of my duties as the director of health information management, I am sometimes called upon to relay information about the discipline to aspiring members of the society who may perhaps have an interest of joining the field or basically knowing how it operates. This, for example, includes forums and career days at high schools and community colleges where I am sometimes invited to speak to students about the discipline of health information management. Even as I speak verbally to these prospective individuals, it is always good to give them handouts that lays out the basic essentials of the discipline of health information management to augment my verbal presentation. However, the verbal presentation is even more important as it gives me a chance to connect one on one with these individuals and explain everything about health information management, answer their questions and so on.
There are many subtopics that I would include in such a speaking engagement. The first sub-topic would obviously be a description of the health information management discipline. Below is an example of a description of the heath information management discipline.
Health Information Management is the process through which digital as well as traditional (analogue) health information that is vital to the provision of high-quality patient care is acquired, analyzed and protected (Tan & Payton, 2010). The professionals in this field work in different health settings that include hospitals, government agencies, and outpatient clinics, as well as the private industry. In all these settings, the professional are involved in the collection and also in the analysis of medical information and data that is used by physicians and nurses in the dissemination of high quality patient care (Tan & Payton, 2010). One of the roles of a professional in this field, for example, is to manage and secure patient records. It is common to come across a heath information professional busy typing into a computer as he or she inputs patient’s medical records to be utilized in the future.
The other part of my presentation would be in regards to the importance of health information management. Some of the aspects that I would cover under this subtopic are described below.
The most important aspect of health information management is that it helps in the dissemination of the highest quality of care. Patient care that is guided by patient information has greater and better outcomes. If a nurse or a physician has all the information about a patient’s medical history at his disposal, then he can make the best decisions when it comes to providing care. Using patient health information, a nurse or a physician is able to decide the type of intervention to use on a particular patient. This is why professionals are needed to collect, analyze and input and store health information that will be used to guide patient care. In one way or another, health information management makes the job of nurses and physicians relatively easier and drives all health institutions towards the achievement of high-quality patient care (Tan & Payton, 2010).
The other sub-topic that I would touch on as part of my verbal presentation would be the current trends in the health information management discipline. One of the areas that I would particularly emphasize on is the rise of digital information storage. Recent years have witnessed traditional methods of health information storage slowly being replaced by digital methods especially through the use of computers. In many health care settings, medical information is no longer stored in paper files but is rather stored in computer databases. Information and data stored on computer systems is referred to as electronic health information. In fact, one of the primary duties of professionals in the health information management discipline has been to transcribe patient information from physical paper files and into computer systems (Tan & Payton, 2010). The use of electronic health systems is indeed more preferable as doctors and physicians can access information about the patient from anywhere in the world and can, therefore, be able to advance the best quality care. In addition, a digital storage of information enhances the security of this information and minimizes chances of the information being leaked. It also saves physical space, as no large rooms are required to store patient information contained in physical paper files.
As mentioned earlier, my presentation would not just comprise the verbal part but I would also hand out brochures that pass more information to the students. In these brochures, I would re-state my verbal presentation subtopics and include several others. For instance, a brochure would be the perfect platform to inform the students about the education requirements, as well as the career opportunities in the discipline of the health information management.
For one to qualify as a professional in the health information management discipline, one must have at least an associate diploma in health information management from an accredited institution of high learning (AHIMA, 2014). Currently, there are many institutions of higher learning offering a program in health information management. A diploma can be acquired in a minimum of two years while a degree can be acquired in a minimum of four years. The program entails all the major aspects of health information management and an individual who has graduated with a degree in this program will be equipped with all the skills and abilities required to work in this discipline effectively. In addition to the associate degree program, one can also choose to advance their education and acquire a master’s degree in the field. For those holding degrees and masters in health information management, they can acquire further certification from the American Health Information Management (AHIMA). This body administers an exam and for those who pass, they are awarded the title of ‘Registered Health Information Administrator” (RHIA).
There are many career opportunities in the health information management field, and undergraduates and undergraduates are almost assured of a job. These jobs can be found in hospitals, government agencies, and outpatient clinics, as well as the private industry. In addition, health information management professionals may be employed under various title designations. Some of the most common, for instance, include supervisor, director, manager, coder, privacy officer, cancer registrar, HIM systems analyst, scanner, HIM technician and record analyst. The employment of professionals of health information management is expected to rise by over 22% in the next ten years, which is higher than any other occupation. This is because of several factors that include an aging baby boomer generation, swift growth in the number of medical procedures, treatments and tests that will be subjected to more intensive scrutiny by regulators, health insurance companies, consumers and courts.
Cases of medical identity thefts have been increasing in the last few years. It has become an issue of great concern for both healthcare consumers and healthcare providers. Medical identity theft essentially entails someone using another person’s health information without their consent or knowledge to either receive or obtain payment for medical services or treatment or even to acquire goods (Tan & Payton, 2010). This activity results in the erroneous entry of data in the already existing medical records and can, for instance, involve creating fictitious medical or health records in the victim’s name (Tan & Payton, 2010).
As a director of health information management, there are several measures I would take to reduce cases of identity theft. The first strategy would be to form a special medical identity theft team. This team would be charged with the role of educating staff and clients on theft detection and prevention, and simplifying the process of medical theft reporting. Training staff on how to recognize medical identity theft would help to prevent identity thefts.
This is also the case with clients, who would be exposed to sessions of identity theft education that would enable them not only to prevent such cases but also identify any suspicious activity in their medical information databases.
In case an identity theft occurs under my jurisdiction, I would follow the required steps of dealing with the situation. The first step would be to initiate an investigation immediately. This would be followed by reporting to the police for further investigation. The results from the investigation would be used to catch those responsible for the theft and also facilitate the process of ensuring that the victim’s earlier medical portfolio is rectified and returned to its earlier status. In addition, the victim would be subjected to a comprehensive identity theft education session to avoid such incidences in the future. The incidence can also be used a learning note for staff to help them detect similar cases of identity theft.
Explanation of Diagnosis Related Groups
The Diagnosis Related Group is a system that essentially classifies patient cases, diseases and ailments into about 467 groups in which the patients as well as the cost of treatments are almost similar (Tan & Payton, 2010). There are five main factors that determine the diagnosis related group into which the patient is classified into when recording their health information. These include the diagnosis, the age, need for performance of a surgical operation and presence of co-morbidities or complicating factors. Health information management professionals play a crucial role in the implementation of DRG as they are ones who record and manage the information needed to classify patients into the DRG groups.
There are other types of certifications available for health information management professionals apart from the RHIA and the HIA certifications.
One of these is the RHIT certification. A professional holding this certification is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the quality of health records by verifying their accuracy, completeness as well as their proper entry into health storage systems such as computers (AHIMA, 2014). This individual also uses computer applications to bring together patient data and then analyze it for purposes of patient care improvement and cost control. RHIT certified individuals also specialize in coding procedures and diagnoses in patient’s records for purposes of research and reimbursement (AHIMA, 2014).
In terms of eligibility one needs to have successfully completed academic requirements (minimum of an associate degree) of a health information management program by an institution accredited by CAHIIM (Commission on Accreditation for Health informatics and Information Management Education). Alternatively, one can also have graduated from a program of HIM that has the approval of a foreign association with which AHIMA has a reciprocity agreement with (AHIMA, 2014).
In regards to testing, students in RHIT programs accredited by CAHIIM usually take their exams in the last term of study. The test can also be taken by students who have finished their coursework but have not graduated. In addition, graduates waiting for their official transcripts can also take the RHIT test (AHIMA, 2014).
The other certification is CCS (Certified Coding Specialist). In terms of eligibility, one must also possess an associate degree in health information technology (AHIMA, 2014). Professionals enrolled in the program usually take their exams during their final term of study (AHIMA, 2014). This exam mainly assesses the professionals’ mastery level or proficiency in coding medical information.
In order to prevent miscommunication and improve communication with IT, I would suggest the introduction of an IT education program in the facility whereby all members of the health information management are taught about various aspects of IT which they can then integrate into the facility’s health information system. If professionals are well knowledgeable on aspects of IT, then cases of miscommunication will be minute. In addition, to improve communication, I would ensure that the people who facilitate this process are individuals who are skilled in it and who can pinpoint any incidences of miscommunication or communication errors and rectify these errors with immediate effect. In addition, to improve the communication with IT, I would recommend the use of mentors who at the beginning of the installation of the IT program will be in charge and as time proceeds, HIM professionals can progressively learn from them in the form of apprenticeship and mentorship and eventually take over.
As a controller, I would be added extra responsibilities in regard to health information management over those responsibilities that I am currently already in charge of. This role of controller would mean that I would not only be in charge of overseeing the collection, analysis and storage of health information, but that I would be in charge of controlling how this information is used. I would be in charge of stating how this information is to be used including the limits to which the information can be used. However, this new role will perfectly fit with my previous role. I will essentially have more power when it comes to deciding how information is specifically used in disseminating proper patient care.
AHIMA Home - American Health Information Management Association. (2014). Retrieved November 16, 2014, from http://www.ahima.org/
Tan, J., & Payton, F. (2010). Adaptive health management information systems: Concepts, cases, and practical applications (3rd ed.). Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett.