Why Data Science Should Be Embraced by Every HIM Organization

By: In: Healthcare On: Jul 23, 2015
Why Data Science Should Be Embraced by Every HIM Organization

The 5th blog in the Healthcare Information Governance Predictions & Perspectives blog series. This blog series is focused on Health IG Professional Readiness

Many indicators seem to reveal that future healthcare systems will be data-driven. But in order to extract value from this data, every healthcare organization will need to thoroughly understand data science. This plays a crucial role in the future of healthcare reimbursement since many of the value-based reimbursement programs and accountable care organizations (ACOs) are built by properly aggregating and analyzing healthcare data. Furthermore, those organizations that don’t work to extract value from their data will likely fall behind competing organizations in the type and level of care they’re able to provide to their patients.

While there are many potential benefits to the current surplus of healthcare data, there are also a number of issues that currently exist with most of this information. The largest of these issues is that this data might not be trustworthy since there is a chance that it was entered improperly. As is often said in data science, bad data in leads to bad data out. In fact, The New York Times reports that data scientists spend 50 to 80 percent of their time “collecting and preparing unruly digital data before it can be explored for useful nuggets.” As such, most data scientists understand that one of the biggest parts of their job is cleaning the data as opposed to actually analyzing it. This data-cleaning process is crucial to ensuring that an organization’s records are valid and trustworthy, but hiring highly trained data scientists is expensive, and these figures often do not have a thorough understanding of the specific healthcare data and how it is collected.

This is where I think health information management (HIM) professionals can play a much larger part in their healthcare organization. Two of the major roles that HIM professionals have traditionally played in healthcare have been in records management and billing, both of which are all about ensuring the integrity of the healthcare data. Before releases, HIM professionals are responsible for reviewing all electronic health records to make sure that the data they send out is accurate. This is a very important job because the integrity of this data is crucial to an organization’s success. For instance, healthcare organizations wouldn’t get paid if medical billers didn’t always check that the documentation they send out matches the claim.

This is why I think every HIM department should embrace the data science efforts of their organization. HIM professionals already have the skills associated with reviewing, improving and updating healthcare data, but organizations should apply these skills to a more granular, electronic data set. This will take a shift in mindset, but it will be much more efficient for an organization to have HIM professionals ensure quality data than to have their data scientists do it.

In the future, care, reimbursement and patient experience are all going to be driven by quality healthcare data. Unfortunately, a large quantity of this data needs to be cleaned up to be as effective as possible. As such, organizations should embrace and engage their HIM department’s skills to improve the quality of their healthcare records. If organizations don’t make an effort to clean up their data now, they will pay the price in the long run.

Join our Twitter Chat: Healthcare IG Professional Readiness: Predictions and Perspectives #InfoTalk

On July 29th at 10:00am PT/1:00 pm ET, @IronMtnHealth is hosting a Twitter chat using #InfoTalk to further the dialog. If you have been involved in governance-related projects, we’d love to have you join. Topics include how your organizations’ IG oversight body is utilizing the principles of IG; the IG disciplines that comprise your job responsibilities, and the tactics you are using to strengthen IG-related skills? Join in to keep the conversation going.

Hear more voices from the thought leaders of the healthcare industry by reading the rest of the blogs in this series: Health IG Professional Readiness.

← Next Gen Information Management Pro: From The Basement To The Field A New IG Leader: The Emerging Role of the CIGO →

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About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn is the editor and founder of the nationally renowned blog network HealthcareScene.com. The Healthcare Scene network currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles. These Healthcare IT-related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. Healthcare Scene recently added Health IT-focused career resources HealthcareITCentral.com and HealthcareITToday.com to the network. John also co-founded two companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and was an advisor to the recently acquired docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs, can be found on LinkedIn and on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.