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The American Health Information Management Association hosted their annual conference in Baltimore, October 16-19, 2016. A variety of healthcare professionals descended upon the Baltimore Convention Center for multiple learning sessions regarding health information. Couldn’t make it?  DataFile was well represented at AHIMA this year by our Compliance Department and our Business Development Department.  We’re happy to share what we learned with you!  Here are three key takeaways from this year’s conference:

The New Buzzword is Information Governance

Move over interoperability, the new buzzword on the block is information governance (IG)! AHIMA defines IG as “organization-wide framework for managing information throughout its lifecycle and supporting the organization’s strategy, operations, regulatory, legal, risk and environmental requirements.” Essentially IG boils down to the management of an organization’s information. Everywhere you turned at #AHIMAcon16, you heard about information governance. In an increasingly digital world, it is more imperative than ever that we know where our information is, how to access it in a timely manner, and when we should dispose it. While IG is important in any industry, it’s critical in healthcare due to the sensitivity of Protected Health Information (PHI). It’s important to note, however, that IG differs from health information management (HIM), as IG eliminates fragmentation by looking at every record and bit of information in an organization. As healthcare continues to evolve and collect more information from more sources (personal health devices, anyone?), IG will be the guiding force for organizational information management.

Quality is Key

In healthcare, we are aware that quality is a big deal. Heck, we’re even shifting our provider reimbursement to account for quality! While it may seem common-sense, this theme resonated throughout many sessions of the convention. We’ve heard the phrase “document, document, document,” but it’s true in many situations – “if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen.” Quality documentation is imperative through multiple facets of an organization. Information Governance relies on strong organizational policies and procedures, with proof that they are enforced. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) deployed an audit program earlier this year which scrutinizes the quality of documentation related to abiding by HIPAA, including the organization’s Security Risk Analysis. More than ever, it’s clear that just writing some information down isn’t good enough to pass muster, the breadth and specificity must be there.

MACRA and Quality Reimbursement Cannot be Ignored

Just one week ago, the “final rule” (we know there will be additional iterations) of MACRA and the Quality Payment Program (QPP) deployed, effectively taking over the weekends of those speaking on the topic to skim through about 2,400 pages of information. Sessions on the QPP were packed, with many looking to gather information about what this next round of healthcare reform looks like. While many providers are sick and tired (!) of hearing about pay-for-performance programs, the QPP cannot be ignored. One of my favorite phrases is “When CMS institutes, commercial payers follow suit.” And the QPP is no different. In fact, the proposed and final rules reference CMS working with commercial payers (think Aetna, Humana, etc.) to come up with pay-for-performance programs as well. That means even if providers have little Medicare charges, they could still be heavily impacted by commercial payers joining forces with this idea.

While 2017 is a transition year affectionately deemed “pick your pace,” the QPP is here to stay and it will have a grand impact. Healthcare organizations should start preparing now to make the most of their reimbursement come 2017 and beyond. It’s clear that the shift towards quality reimbursement is no longer a thought of the future, it’s happening in less than 75 days. Money talks — do your providers like being reimbursed for their services? Then they need to jump on board with the QPP, and soon.

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