The healthcare industry is constantly evolving. For those on the frontlines, like health information professionals (HIPs), staying up-to-date with the latest tools and technology is crucial for providing the highest quality care.
With the ever-increasing amount of patient data and the importance of maintaining privacy and security, HIPs play a critical role in ensuring the accuracy and confidentiality of medical records. In celebration of Health Information Professionals Week, we will be doing a deep dive into the HIP industry: its workforce, its challenges, and the key tools and resources available to push it forward.
What are health information professionals? (HIPs)
First, let’s define our terms.
A health information professional (HIP) is a trained and certified specialist who manages, analyzes, and protects patient health information in various healthcare settings. This could be anyone from an office administrator to a hospital’s in-house data analyst.
HIPs ensure medical records’ accuracy, completeness, and confidentiality (see: HIPAA violations). They also manage health information systems to facilitate patient care, clinical research, and public health initiatives (e.g., COVID-19 vaccination).
In terms of training, HIPs are skilled in various disciplines such as health informatics, health information technology, medical coding and billing, and compliance with regulatory considerations in healthcare, including HIPAA.
Effectively, any business, organization, or public entity that involves healthcare has a HIP involved at some level. While the exact number of HIPs is challenging, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that roughly 347,200 are employed based on registered medical records. That number is expected to grow 17% by 2031—a growth rate much faster than the average of all other occupations.
Challenges to health information professionals
While the need for more health information professionals is clear, there are several unique challenges facing members in the field.
To start, the average age of a U.S. healthcare worker is 49. Not only has this aging healthcare labor force led to hospital staffing shortages around the country, but the incoming generation (Gen Z) presents complications of their own, demanding higher wages earlier than their generational predecessors.
The combination of these factors means that current health information professionals may find it difficult to adapt to the rapid digitization of healthcare technology. And at the same time, those with the technological skills to drive the industry further will come at a high cost to an industry experiencing financial strains.
Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the largest industry challenges.
Data Privacy and Security
When it comes to data privacy, healthcare information is the most protected and sensitive. HIPs must keep patient information confidential and secure. As electronic health records (EHRs) become more common, HIPs must keep updated with ever-evolving data privacy and security regulations and policies.
As we’ve mentioned above, healthcare technology is rapidly evolving. As a result, HIPs must be able to keep up with new software, systems, and technologies to manage patient data effectively. This requires ongoing training and continuing education.
Workflow and Process Improvement
Working in healthcare requires an adaptive mindset. HIPs must be able to optimize workflows and processes to ensure that patient data is accurate, accessible, and timely. This requires the ability to analyze data and identify areas for improvement.
Interconnected systems and cross-discipline collaboration are essential skills. HIPs must be able to work with various EHR systems and other health IT systems, which may not be fully compatible. This can create challenges regarding data sharing and collaboration between healthcare providers.
Abiding by the rules and regulations of the industry can make or break any healthcare institution—from a small medical office to an enterprise hospital system. HIPs must comply with various regulations, including HIPAA, HITECH, and other federal and state laws. Compliance requirements can be complex and constantly changing, and HIPs must stay up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations.
Key tools and resources for health information professionals to stay sharp
For HIPs, the most critical component of their job duty is to ensure the appropriate and lawful management of highly sensitive personal healthcare records.
Thankfully, as the healthcare industry evolves, so are the tools, resources, and technologies dedicated to serving it.
RingRx can help HIPs overcome the challenges of the current industry.
HIPs can use RingRx’s call recording feature to keep accurate and complete records of all patient interactions. This can help them avoid errors in documentation, ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and protect the privacy and security of patient information.
Call Routing and IVR
RingRx’s call routing and interactive voice response (IVR) features can help HIPs manage a high volume of calls efficiently and effectively. They can set up custom routing rules based on the caller’s needs, specialty, or other criteria and use IVR to provide callers with self-service options for routine tasks, such as scheduling appointments or refilling prescriptions.
HIPs can use RingRx’s text messaging feature to communicate more effectively and efficiently with patients. They can send appointment reminders, follow-up instructions, test results, and other important information directly to patients’ mobile phones, reducing the need for phone calls and improving patient satisfaction.
Collaboration and Workflow
RingRx’s collaboration and workflow features can help HIPs work more effectively with other healthcare team members, such as physicians, nurses, and administrative staff. They can use RingRx’s shared messaging and task management tools to coordinate care and streamline workflows, reducing the risk of errors and delays.
Your next steps
When addressing the gaps in current health systems that can ultimately affect compliance, RingRx can help.
With RingRx, HIPs can overcome these technological challenges by providing them with the tools they need to manage patient interactions more effectively, communicate more efficiently, work more collaboratively with other healthcare team members, and ultimately offer better care for their patients.