It turns out that the greatest leadership challenges in healthcare information management (HIM) and the governance of information (IG) relate to their enterprise scope. Leadership involves setting a vision and seeing to its execution. Even when one successfully leads HIM, it is a big step to move from a departmental or service scope to the information assets of the whole enterprise. But this is the leadership challenge for HIM in the coming decades.
I had the pleasure of moderating a panel about standing up enterprise IG programs at the Wisconsin HIMA fall conference last week. HIM colleagues on the panel traced their journey—and they strongly agreed it was a journey—to an enterprise focus. Three leadership lessons can be distilled from their experiences to date:
- They understand the broader environment of their organizations – across the entire enterprise and beyond.
Panelists spanned the range of types of healthcare organizations, including a multi-state non-profit, a community hospital on its way to becoming part of a multi-state for profit and a single state multi-site non-profit. They shared common, though not identical, information challenges and imperatives in bringing up EHRs, finding optimum ways to handle paper and begin tapping data stores for population health management. These experiences brought them to a new understanding of the need to improve how their health system’s information assets were being managed and governed and they stepped up to the challenge.
- They focus on the vision and goals and don’t let fear of the unknown get in their way.
The approaches taken by the Wisconsin colleagues and others across the county demonstrate the importance of beginning the journey with a clear set of achievable milestones while staying fixed on the larger prize. They emphasized the value of beginning their enterprise journey on areas of high strategic value to their organization. It may be an initial focus on the integrity and trustworthiness of data extracted from EHRs for quality reporting or design and implementation of sound and uniform information policy for EHRs across the enterprise. Others improve the cost effective management and retention of legacy medical records or accurate data for population health analytics. While their journeys must eventually include all these areas and more, they started in the place that had greatest importance to their organizations.
- They are confident in their skills and competencies to lead an enterprise initiative and know they can and will learn as they go along.
This propensity to enjoy challenges, strive to learn and see potential to develop new skills has been called a ‘growth mindset.’ [i] In contrast, people who view talent as a quality they either possess or lack as having a “fixed mindset.” The reality is that no one has all the skills and competencies needed to set out on the IG and Enterprise Information Management (EIM) journey, they just need to start and know that the ability to learn will allow them to succeed.
Cohasset Associates and AHIMA recently published a second national survey on healthcare IG, this time focusing on professional readiness.[ii] The findings reflect the challenges of moving from a local to an enterprise approach to IG and EIM. Healthcare is making progress, but it is not easy to get senior leaders to focus on and charter IG without a strong strategic and business case.
What stands out in this survey is that the HIM respondents understand the importance of IG and an enterprise approach to IM. They are confident that they have or can develop the needed skills and competencies and they are eager for the challenge. This is very good news for our health system.
[i] Dweck, C. 2008. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House.
[ii] Cohasset Associates and AHIMA. 2015 Information Governance in Healthcare Survey: Professional Readiness and Opportunity. http://www.ironmountain.com/Knowledge-Center/Reference-Library/View-by-Document-Type/White-Papers-Briefs/I/Information-Governance-in-Healthcare.aspx