Patient Records - But Mine Is Special

By Bob Larrivee posted 06-03-2013 15:59


Over the past few months, I have had the good fortune to speak at several events focused on healthcare. This is something I heard many times, “but mine is special”. The reference here was what the Reseller attendees were telling me they hear form their clients in relation to patient records. They are looked at as being special because they are patient records. While this is true to a degree, they are still records nonetheless and just like any information requiring security and access controls, retention and disposition guidelines, they are still records and should be treated as such.

I find it interesting that when I delivered my session and talked with folks at various times during this event, The basic tenant was one of special treatment for this information and of course, a heavy reliance on technology as the solution. When I asked about governance policies, many of the responses were that their clients really did not have a good understanding on the role of information governance and that emphasis is being placed on compliance with the “Meaningful Use” element of the regulatory mandates for digital patient records.

In my view, it is this move to prove compliance with Meaningful Use, and this is important don’t get me wrong, that has organizations focused on the technology and not the information itself. I am fully in favor of the intentions for this as the goal of meaningful use is focused on use of electronic health records to improve health care in the United States through standardization, accessibility and accuracy of patient information. However, it appears to me that like most well-intentioned regulatory initiatives, organizations are rushing to adopt technology for reasons of compliance and overlooking the fact that compliance is not established and maintained solely on technology implementation. Compliance requires a balanced combination of policy, process, people and technology. If you are capturing patient information, the policies, processes and technologies used to capture this information must be consistent, monitored and updated regularly and he people involved need to be properly trained and their training must be updated regularly.

I see patient records as records. The fact they are patient records and have regulatory guidelines is no different that those in the finance, government and other business sectors. They all fall under information governance and should be part of the overarching information management strategy, governance and security policies and practices. Yes, there are specialized technologies available to manage this information and under an Enterprise Information Management (EIM) architecture, it should be part of the enterprise framework and included as an information type. As records, the records management practice for the enterprise should include these and manage them as a record type with all of the appropriate access, management and disposition controls.

If you are ready to move forward and are finding yourself stuck or unfocused and are not sure where to begin or what to do next, seek professional assistance and/or training to get you started. Be sure to investigate AIIM's Capture training program.

And be sure to read the AIIM Training Briefing on How to Assess Scanning and Capture Requirements (authored by yours truly). Click on the image to download and read.

What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.

#governance #records #EIM #InformationGovernance #patientrecords #ElectronicRecordsManagement #ECM #healthcare