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5 Ways HIM Professionals Can Contribute to the Population Health Monitoring Revolution

UW Extended Campus Blog Team May 21, 2014

In the age of data-driven healthcare, population health monitoring (PHM) programs are springing up everywhere. These new and emerging programs rely on healthcare data and health information management technology (HIMT) to manage and monitor patients who have varying health needs. The goal is to keep patients as healthy as possible, thereby reducing costs for expensive interventions.

HIM professionals are at the forefront of this revolution because they possess the information governance and data management/analysis skills that are necessary to ensure successful PHM programs.

The good news is that HIM professionals, particularly those who have pursued health information management and technology degrees, are well prepared for this new wave of healthcare data application. Consider the following ways in which HIM professionals can use their existing skills to contribute to the population health monitoring revolution:

1. Capture, validate, and maintain data that impact clinical decisions

HIM professionals know how and where to access clinical, claims, administrative, and self-reported patient data. They can explain who generates this data and in which specific systems. They understand the role of health information exchanges and can articulate the ways in which the electronic medical record (EMR) can be used to generate and cross tabulate this data. As data sources grow and expand to incorporate mobile devices, personal health devices, and more, HIM professionals can take inventory of this data and ensure that PHM programs capitalize on it as much as possible. They also understand and apply important data retention requirements.

2. Articulate what the data means and how it can be used to perform decision support

HIM professionals can translate SNOMED-CT, ICD-9-CM, and/or ICD-10-CM/PCS data into information that others can use to improve care. They can explain how and why certain conditions are coded and sequenced. This information provides a crucial context for data interpretation.

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3. Ensure data integrity and accuracy

Simply collecting massive amounts of data is not sufficient. Data must be as accurate as possible. HIM professionals can educate physicians and others who contribute to the medical record about the importance of their documentation. Documentation must tell the patient’s story with as much detail as possible. Accurate and complete documentation leads to accurate and complete coding. This coding is a driving force behind PHM programs. By applying American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) Data Quality Management Model, HIM professionals can ensure that data is accessible, consistent, current, granular, precise, accurate, comprehensive, relevant, and timely.

4. Explain the limitations of current information systems

Although today’s information systems can capture more data than ever before, a lack of interoperability as well as the absence of real-time prompts to improve care are two major drawbacks. HIM professionals must help develop new solutions that will capture and integrate data from hospital EMRs and physician practice management systems. These solutions rely on integrated data to activate pre-defined rules for specific patient populations, which then directly alert providers and help them make informed clinical decisions across the continuum of care. Providers must also engage patients directly via portals and automated outreach.

5. Drive change within the organization

HIM professionals have already proven that they possess the communication and leadership skills necessary to support a PHM program. Many professionals have successfully worked with IT to implement EMRs and other technologies. They are likely leading the ICD-10 transformation as well. HIM leaders can—and should—pave the way for PHM today and beyond.


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By Lisa A. Eramo

Headshot of Lisa A. Eramo.Lisa A. Eramo is guest writer for UW Extended Campus. As a freelance writer, she regularly contributes to healthcare publications, websites, and blogs with a particular interest in health information management, medical coding, ICD-10, clinical documentation improvement, and healthcare quality and efficiency. Visit for more about Lisa.

Programs: Health Information Management and Technology