Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Making the Connection – HIM and Healthcare Analytics

 As a statistician that entered the healthcare industry early in my career, I learned the value of a deep understanding of the context of the data available in the healthcare industry.  As a fresh PhD, I had a number of advanced statistical methods in my toolbox and was eager to start applying them to this newfound rich data source.  I caught on very quickly that the HIM professionals in the office knew the answers to my data integrity and interpretation questions.

In my current position as the administrator of analytics for a large academic medical center, I have a staff of eighteen analytics professions – seven of them are HIM professionals with RHIAs and CHDA credentials.  These analysts provide enterprise-wide dashboards and scorecards, custom analytics for process improvement efforts, data validation for publicly reported quality measures and predictive models.

Why hire HIM professionals for these positions?  The HIM profession requires a deep understanding of healthcare data collection, use and protection – and they are some of the best critical thinkers in the industry.  Making connections between disparate data elements and transforming them into end products that may be used to make critical business and clinical decisions are skills that differentiate between a successful analytics team and a report production team that fills orders from customers.

Healthcare analytics is 75% data preparation and 25% true analytics.  The data preparation portion includes scoping with the end users including senior leadership, administrators and front line clinicians.  HIM professionals are able to translate the needs of the end users to available data and deepen the users’ understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the data elements.  Traditional IT professionals and data scientists are able to complete complex queries and design intricate analyses, but these are all for naught if the link between the data, analytics and clinical operations is not maintained.  This is where the knowledge and experience that HIM professionals bring to the table are most valuable.

Healthcare news headlines include the words analytics, machine learning, and predictive modelling every day.  These techniques sound very daunting, but the level of analytics understanding required for an HIM professional to make a real difference in their organization and professional career are actually achievable by seeking out some of the many free on-line courses and workshops.  Preparing and passing the Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) credential will demonstrate a higher level of understanding of these techniques and allow advancement in this fast moving area of HIM. 

About the Author 

Susan White, PhD, RHIA, CHDA is an Administrator of Analytics at The James Cancer Hospital.  She is also a Associate Professor in the Health Information Management and Systems Division at The Ohio State University.  Dr. White frequently presents at both national and state level association meetings.  She has also served on the OHIMA and AHIMA Board of Directors.

1 comment:

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