In the broader conversation around health information management, much of the focus has been on improving technologies. The prevailing wisdom is that if IT solutions can take just a few steps forward the transformative effects of EHRs will finally become a reality.

It’s undeniable that the technology needs to improve, and that stakeholders throughout the industry will need to prioritize that. What is less understood, or at least less acknowledged, is the role that business units play in the success or failure of a faster and more-expansive HIM buy-in.

The simple fact is that if new and improved technologies don’t align with business objectives, those technologies will languish on the back burner. Executives and administrators have lingering suspicions about the costs of HIM and the complexity of the logistics involved.

For an example, just consider the goals of Meaningful Use. Significant amounts of time and money have already been spent to achieve interoperability, and in most cases the project has failed to achieve that goal on the necessary scale. In fact, the most relevant insight the project has provided may be that interoperability is more expensive, more complex, and less attainable than any of us expected.

Business units are also leery of the mounting challenges of big data as they relate to HIM. So far, healthcare providers and systems have been great at collecting data, but less effective at giving it the form and function it requires to actually return value. Skeptical interests have trouble seeing these costs as investments and worry that a realistic ROI will never be attainable.

Another less expected concern is that the growing complexity and ubiquity of healthcare IT actually detracts from the mission of patient care. Doctors, nurses, and the administrators above them have been so inundated with new tools and so overwhelmed by the learning curve of implementing them that they  are becoming less productive and efficient. For the decision makers that hold the purse strings, that is a troubling thought.

Regardless of where you come down on this issue, its undeniable that the future evolution of HIM is going to be fundamentally dependent on achieving a better alignment with business. For better or for worse, IT professionals are sparse in the upper offices of the country’s largest hospital systems. Until they can demonstrate that HIM in practice is effective, affordable, and a compliment to care, it will always face obstacles.

If you are a HIM professional who is concerned about the future, take steps now to ensure your long-term success. Work with the staffing specialists at MedPartners HIM.

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