Health information managers in Australia want their hospitals to invest more in analytics and auditing software, reflecting their desire for high coding quality and professional evolution leaning toward analytics.
This is according to a recently published research report from Code Focus, the coding and clinical audit division of IT consultancy Data Agility.
The survey collected responses from 87 HIMs to gain their insights on health information systems (HIS) departments and the quality of hospital data.
The survey found that about a third of all respondents want their hospitals to invest more in analysis and/or auditing software. According to Code Focus, senior management will see better business outcomes by providing HIMs with tools for data analysis and coding quality.
The report also identified the three main causes of poor coding quality in HIS departments: incomplete clinical documentation; variations in interpretations of coding standards; and pressure caused by quotas for HIMs and clinical coders.
Code Focus pointed to a major difference of opinion about the adequacy of personnel in the HIS department. Only 45% of managers say they have enough staff, compared to 71% of executives who think the same.
Another area of disparity in attitudes among staff and leadership concerns training and education, with 88% of directors believing that their HIMs receive adequate training, compared to 53% of managers. This means that a significant proportion of managers surveyed (47%) are dissatisfied with their training, indicating a “strong desire for further managerial training but not being met by executives,” the report said.
While most HIS directors believe that their HIMs receive adequate training, none of them believe they attend six or more webinars per year, indicating that they are unaware of the amount of training and education required for ongoing professional development, the report emphasizes.
Moreover, when asked what they think will be their biggest challenge by the end of 2023, HIS directors said it’s the use of cloud computing, while executives and officials think it’s the increasing amount of data.
Meanwhile, the report also found an association between the two main reasons for satisfaction and dissatisfaction with their HIS – investment in HIT and training. For example, the pressure to meet quotas is a major cause of dissatisfaction with HIMs in large hospitals, while this is not the case with small and medium-sized hospitals.
To achieve better business results and have a more satisfied HIS workforce, Code Focus proposes three things:
Provide continuing education and training programs for HIMs;
Investing in health information technologies; and
Ensure clear communication within the organization.
“There is a discrepancy between the directors and the departmental managers of ZIJN about how much work goes into high-quality coding. The medical record has evolved, and so has the role of the HIM. HIMs are no longer administrative support for hospitals. instead, they work with software, policies, and processes to ensure high-quality coding, leading to better business outcomes,” noted Code Focus.
THE BIGGER TREND
In recent years, public health systems across Australia have taken steps to upgrade their respective HIS, especially their EHR platforms. Just last week, the The Northern Territory government began rolling out its Acacia patient record system with a go-live at Katherine Hospital. Earlier this month, the ACT government gave an additional $35 million this year to fully implement its state-wide digital health record system.
In other related news, information managers were found to be among the top earners in the Australian health industry, based on the latest insights provided by the job market portal SEARCH. Of all positions, theirs is the second highest average salary, rising 20% year over year to A$113,880 (about $78,000).