Information governance – reducing costs and improving clinical decision-making

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), information is the life blood of any modern-day business. Companies succeed or falter based on the reliability, availability, and security of their information. But are most companies properly governing how their information is used, shared, and analysed? The EIU recently conducted a survey of senior executives around the world on the benefits, challenges, and risks associated with developing an enterprise-wide information governance strategy.

The information that companies are busily generating, collecting, and mining offers a wealth of potential benefits. However, its use carries substantial risks. As a result, some organizations are forming formal governance bodies to create strategies, policies, and procedures surrounding the distribution of information inside and outside the firm. The EIU has produced a paper that seeks to better understand how companies are creating crossfunctional governance bodies to create strategies and policies around corporate information.

“Good information governance can help companies solve a fundamental challenge within their organizations – how to balance the costs, risks and value of information assets across the enterprise,” said Chuck Hollis of EMC, a global information management consultancy. “As the EIU research indicates, implementing an information governance program can result in companies seeing improved operations and cost control, increased visibility of information flows across the enterprise and an overall better organizational preparedness for meeting compliance mandates. The senior leadership at corporations worldwide should make this a key business priority.”

Health care organisations feature in the report. Catholic Health, for example, a US$8bn not-for-profit organisation, which owns and operates 76 hospitals and 42 long-term care facilities in the US, says that a company-wide information governance strategy leads to better clinical decision-making. That was the key driver behind their four-year effort to centralise core business functions, such as payroll, procurement, contracting and accounting. Now nearing completion, the effort began with the creation of an information governance committee that comprised operations and technical representatives as well as experts from the clinical, financial and strategic groups, which developed standards for new processes and technology requirements. Chief information officer (CIO) Michael Rowan says that information flow improved dramatically. The consolidation, he adds, saves the company US$75m annually and improves the overall level of care that the organisation provides. “If a patient gets treated at different hospitals in our system and the doctors don’t realise that he or she has diabetes, they could put him or her on an ineffective course of treatment,” explains Mr Rowan. Since clinical information has been centralised, doctors can now track a patient’s history regardless of which CHI facility has treated them. “You can make much more intelligent or even life-saving decisions if you have good information.”

The paper is available for free download here.

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