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What is Health Information Management?

written by: Rafael • edited by: Anurag Ghosh • updated: 12/14/2010

Dealing with Information in the medical environment is crucial. Having the right information at the right time is very important in the medical profession. This article is an Intro to Health Information Management and how it can help improve the health care system

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    Intro Health Information Management

    Health information management (HIM) is a body of knowledge that deals with the process of organizing, tracking and maintaining the data generated (both in paper format and in electronic format) during the interaction between the patient and medical practitioners in clinics, doctors’ offices and hospitals. Here is a brief intro to Health information management:

    Health records are jotted down on the doctor’s notepad or can be recorded electronically during a patient visit to a clinic or hospital. The data contained in those records can be analyzed using computerized methodologies to devise new procedures that may improve the efficiency of the clinic or the hospital with respect to the relationship with the patient and the third parties involved (pharmacy, government agencies or medical insurance companies).

    In the final analysis, the health information management team is responsible for keeping track of all the information no matter where it is located or in which format it is recorded.

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    What Type of Records are Handled by the HIM?

    The primordial record that any hospital or medical office has to handle is the patient health record. This is the legal record of the health care services provided to a patient. The health patient record includes: clinical records, lab results, preventive care, medical evaluations, lifestyle analysis, research protocols, and prescribed medicines. The information contained in this record results from the direct interaction between a doctor, a nurse, a medical resident or any other medical practitioner with the patient.

    Also, a secondary patient record exists in which non-clinical data is included. The information contained in this secondary record complements and provides for patient care support. Administrative, regulation and payment records are included here.

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    Health Information Manager Functions:

    A professional trained in HIM may act in a variety of roles and functions. He (or she) may be an agent in charge. A Health Information Manager may:

    • Supply information sources to generate new knowledge.
    • Be a leader in the formation of information competences that will enable personal and professional development.
    • Create pathways that enable users to interact with the informational tools that will help them meet their information needs.
    • Be a mediator between users and the sources of information.
    • Act as advisor of organizational learning.

    Health information management is at the center of the health care system. Health information managers' responsibilities encompass various duties, including collection, record, storage, analysis and distribution of healthcare information. Traditionally, information was recorded in paper-based systems. Today electronic medical records (EMR) are preferred. EMRs can easily be stored, retrieved, transferred, and analyzed.

    HIM is essential in today’s medical environment. Both patients and medical practitioners can benefit of having all the information they need at their fingertips when needed. Better decision can be made by having the right information at the right time. The above intro to health information management may have given you some idea about its features and functions, which, I am sure, will be of immense benefit to the medical fraternity in the days to come.

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    Mason RO. 1990. What is an Information Professional? J Educ Libr Inf Sci, 31(12):122-38.

    Green MA, Bowie MJ. 2005. Essentials of Health Information Management: Principles and Practices. Cengage Learning,