Taking Ownership of Patient Engagement

ATLANTA , Oct. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Patient engagement has no placebo effect. When patients have more access to their health information, they take greater ownership of their healthcare and can make better decisions to improve their outcomes.

Kim Murphy-Abdouch, MPH, RHIA, FACHE, a clinical assistant professor in the health information management department at Texas State University, challenged HIM professionals to facilitate this patient engagement. During her presentation, “Patient Access to Personal Health Information: Regulation vs. Reality” on Monday at the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) 85th annual Convention and Exhibit in Atlanta, she referenced an idea attributed to healthcare consultant Leonard Kish that, “if patient engagement were a drug, it would be the blockbuster drug of the century and malpractice not to use it.”

Patient engagement is a key theme at AHIMA’s convention. AHIMA encourages all consumers to learn more about creating their own personal health record.

“HIM professionals can help break down the silos and barriers that prevent patients from accessing their personal health information,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, RHIA, MBA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. “HIM professionals and tools such as myPHR.com, AHIMA’s website on personal health records, can motivate and empower patients to better understand, access and control one of their most important assets – their personal health information.”

During Murphy-Abdouch’s presentation, she said that when a patient requests copies of notes and lab results from recent visits, HIM professionals can help tailor the information so that it will have the most value for the patient. She added that all employees at a healthcare organization should have familiarity with basic privacy and security requirements.

Murphy-Abdouch also announced preliminary findings from her research, which was a partnership between Texas State and the AHIMA Foundation. The research began with a survey of HIM directors and privacy officers. Almost 53 percent of the responses indicated that – as is their right – healthcare organizations charged for electronic copies of a patient’s health record; almost 65 percent charged for paper copies. The pricing varied between flat fees and per page fees.

Murphy-Abdouch called on healthcare organizations to not use a “one size fits all” approach to handling personal health information (PHI) requests. For instance, patient requests should be looked at differently than third-party requests from long-term care insurance companies, life insurance companies and attorneys.

“With regard to charging for these requests, patients should be viewed with a different lens,” Murphy-Abdouch said.

Other findings of the survey of the 313 HIM directors and privacy officers from all but three states and the District of Columbia include:

The idea for the survey originated out of a research training boot camp at Texas State University. The boot camp – a partnership between the AHIMA Foundation and the Texas State Institute for Health Information Technology – gives HIM educators and practitioners the background and skills necessary to seek funding for applied HIM research projects.

Celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) represents more than 71,000 educated health information management professionals in the United States and around the world. AHIMA is committed to promoting and advocating for high quality research, best practices and effective standards in health information and to actively contributing to the development and advancement of health information professionals worldwide. AHIMA’s enduring goal is quality healthcare through quality information. www.ahima.org

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