Data Quality and Governance Are Top Healthcare IT Security Trends in 2018

Ransomware and malware may have been the leading concerns for healthcare IT professionals in 2017, but 2018 is likely to be the year when data governance becomes an even bigger issue to address.

Between preparing for the GDPR May 2018 release date, and the overwhelming number of data breaches, healthcare IT security professionals will have plenty to keep them up at night.

Big data is once again in the spotlight as healthcare leaders look for ways to streamline processes, reduce costs, and improve the patient experience. Unfortunately, quality problems with personal data and analytics frequently lead healthcare IT teams to focus on improving data quality first, with governance taking a back seat.

Coordinated Plan of Attack

Only 14 percent of healthcare IT professionals state that they have widespread information governance programs in place, while 53 percent are working on governance or see the value in it, according to a recent survey released by AHIMA of 1,500 healthcare professionals. This leaves a great deal of growth opportunity for data governance and quality of information. While hospitals collect vast quantities of data, AHIMA posits that they are not yet to the point of being able to access it quickly and utilize it for the advanced analytics that will help organizations evolve. The potential for payment reforms alone could save the American public millions.

Accurate, Usable Data

One of the key challenges facing healthcare professionals is the ability to capture and access accurate, usable data. Ann Chenoweth, President and Chair of the 2017 AHIMA Convention Board of Directors, notes: “Trusted data must be reliable, accurate, accessible, where and when it’s needed. It’s not the data that comes out of here versus the other system. It has to be an enterprise-wide framework that you can rely on.” The enormous and complicated influx of information bombarding healthcare organizations on all sides is overwhelming, and many organizations are finding themselves unable to cope with this new era of big data analytics.

Protecting Information Security With Governance

Obtaining and storing information is the first step to address. Having the highest possible level of security to protect the data is yet another challenge facing healthcare IT professionals today. The standards around information governance include:

  • Accountability
  • Integrity
  • Protection
  • Compliance
  • Availability

The range of standards around information protection is vast and complicated and include HIPAA, rules to protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII), SoX covering the retention of records and PCI compliance for financial transactions. Navigating each of these standards and where they intersect requires the full attention of information security staff.

Information Is Gold

The massive benefits that can be derived from the detailed information captured throughout a patient’s life can not only improve operational efficiency but can also enhance the quality and safety of patient care. The healthcare organization is not the only winner when there are solid data governance policies and procedures in place — the patient and payors also derive long-term benefits from these practices.

Data is a strategic asset for these organizations and requires ongoing monitoring and a formal structure. The ability to analyze large datasets in seconds aids healthcare providers and administrators alike, gaining deep insights into the needs of patients and doctors. Healthcare Information Management (HIM) as a career continues to grow and morph, as organizations continually look for ways to tighten the security and interoperability of their datasets.

From legal and regulatory issues to data structure and analytics, healthcare IT professionals have no shortage of challenges. Transforming unique data points into actionable information is integral to adding value to the organization, both now and in the future. As the field of healthcare informatics continues to evolve, expect to see data quality and governance at the top of everyone’s agenda in 2018.

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