Information Governance (IG) is a large, complex area (as determined by a recent survey); awareness of it is high (almost 85 percent) and almost 75 percent were familiar with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) definition of IG. However, only 15 percent of respondents to a recent survey reported a prioritization of IG within the last year, and 31 percent responded that their organization had made minimal progress; also, 25 percent reported IG was not a priority at all!
The survey found that over 50% of respondents identified a lack of IG understanding and awareness as a roadblock to implementing IG successfully.
IG is a deliberate approach to the handling of data throughout an organization’s system and facilitates sharing while eliminating fragmentation of information. Information is a crucial piece and should be treated as such- similar to the buildings, equipment, etc. that an organization invests in, vs simply a collection of bits and bytes. IG is concerned with ALL of an organization’s information, not just patient-related information and records.
IG is focused with lifecycle handling of data and information (encompassing it’s use, security and maintenance), whereas data governance (DG) is the domain of the information technology departments (IT)- the bits and bytes and is an important subset of IG. Because of the relationship of IG and DG, information cannot be governed if data isn’t governed. And as Susan White distinguished: “Data governance is keeping garbage from getting in. Information governance is the decisions we make in using that data.” (source: https://datafloq.com/read/what-is-information-governance-why-do-i-need-it/2234)
Part of the process of implementing IG is identifying the decision-makers of data. This is where responsibility and accountability can be designated and real progress can be made, rather than having decisions made independently and on-the-fly. Also, education of organizational leaders and stakeholders about the objectives and purpose of IG are important to keeping it alive. Unless we make information governance someone’s job, it’s not going to happen.
Another aspect adding to the complication of implementing IG is the concept of compliance, which encourages accumulation of obsolete/old data- keeping it “just in case” to avoid unknown laws forbidding its elimination.
If clarifying the understanding of IG and establishing the importance of IG’s role in all operations can be accomplished, organizations can begin making bigger strides into successful implementation of IG, thereby enhancing information streamlining, and clarifying roles regarding data handling.
The good news is that IG awareness and understanding appear to be improving. Implementing an IG program enables healthcare organizations to deliver safe, quality care using reliable data.
PCG’s Information Governance Consulting Team supports AHIMA’s IGHealthRate™ as the only information governance (IG) assessment specifically created for healthcare. Our consulting team uses IGHealthRate™ to enable an interactive evaluation of an organization’s information protection, maintenance, and governance practices and provides guidance for organizations to advance practices on a path to AHIMA’s IGAM™ Level 5. For more information visit