Health information is the data related to a person’s medical history, including symptoms, diagnoses, procedures, and outcomes. Health information records include patient histories, lab results, x-rays, clinical information, and notes. A patient’s health information can be viewed individually, to see how a patient’s health has changed; it can also be viewed as a part of a larger data set to understand how a population’s health has changed, and how medical interventions can change health outcomes.
Health information management (HIM) is the practice of acquiring, analyzing, and protecting digital and traditional medical information vital to providing quality patient care. It is a combination of business, science, and information technology.
HIM professionals are highly trained in the latest information management technology applications and understand the workflow in any healthcare provider organization from large hospital systems to the private physician practice. They are vital to the daily operations management of health information and electronic health records (EHRs). They ensure a patient’s health information and records are complete, accurate, and protected.
Health information management (HIM) professionals work in a variety of different settings and job titles. They often serve in bridge roles, connecting clinical, operational, and administrative functions. These professionals affect the quality of patient information and patient care at every touch pointin the healthcare delivery cycle. HIM professionals work on the classification of diseases and treatments to ensure they are standardized for clinical, financial, and legal uses in healthcare. Health information professionals care for patients by caring for their medical data.
HIM professionals are responsible for the quality, integrity, and protection of patient’s health information, which can include any or all of the following:
- A history and physical exam
- Lab results—blood tests, urine tests, etc.
- Clinical information (nursing notes, physical therapy notes, and many others)
- X-rays and other radiology procedures
- And so much more
Having skilled HIM professionals on staff ensures an organization has the right information on hand when and where it is needed while maintaining the highest standards of data integrity, confidentiality, and security. As technology advances, the role of the HIM professional expands. The HIM professional’s duty is to adapt to new methods of capturing healthcare information, storing that information, and easily accessing it electronically. Their role is important in order to maintain organized and accurate electronic data that allows daily healthcare routines to carry on smoothly with the new technological advancements.