What’s Information Governance and Why Does It Matter in Healthcare?

I recently spent some time explaining Information Governance (IG) and its importance to one of our executive leaders. She asked me to explain IG in 3 sentences or less to help her understand. Well, that was actually pretty difficult. It is complicated to summarize such a large, all encompassing framework that is IG but I believe I made the case effectively: “Information Governance is the umbrella that houses every transaction of information (not just medical records) within the organization and covers many different departments and tasks. It is much more than data governance. IG covers everything from monitoring the generation of data, protecting the information, controlling access to information, capturing revenue, governing the content and quality of the information, promoting population health, making decisions from data, and sharing the information internally and externally.”

Perhaps my explanation was less concise than she was looking for but IG is just that complex. I was happy to have the floor and to be able to discuss this topic with someone who can help me make an impact within the organization with a little education and guidance. I did not wait to be asked about IG. This topic is something of importance to me as an HIM professional and it’s also important to the successful operation of healthcare therefore I look for ways to insert the topic into everyday conversation at my organization. I welcome the opportunity to discuss IG.

This concept of governing information is not new; especially not to HIM professionals. Healthcare IG is becoming the new brand for the tasks we have done in HIM for decades. As more and more health information has become automated, IG has emerged as the necessary solution to the growing presence of raw data and increased electronic accessibility. I agree that governing health information and data in an electronic world is different from the paper-based records of the past but the foundation and concepts are the same. Managing information in the form of thousands of pieces of data takes technology and data analytics skills that HIM professionals are adapting and learning every day. We must take the new technology and the wealth of data and use it for the good of healthcare.

IG is really not so daunting when you start to apply it to everyday organizational workflows. It’s what HIM professionals know best. AHIMA has adapted ARMA’s generally accepted recordkeeping principles and has written a collaborative white paper to help us better understand what IG is in today’s data-driven healthcare environment. This is great for educating the HIM workforce and creating talking points for discussing IG within our organizations. If senior leaders and other healthcare professionals don’t understand IG and why an organization needs a structured approach, it is up to HIM professionals to start the conversation to introduce everyone to the principles of information governance and how HIM can lead the cause.

If you’d like to receive future HIM posts by Erin in your inbox, you can subscribe to future HIM Scene posts here.

About the author

Erin Head

Erin Head

Erin Head is the Director of Health Information Management (HIM) and Quality for an acute care hospital in Titusville, FL. She is a renowned speaker on a variety of healthcare and social media topics and currently serves as CCHIIM Commissioner for AHIMA. She is heavily involved in many HIM and HIT initiatives such as information governance, health data analytics, and ICD-10 advocacy. She is active on social media on Twitter @ErinHead_HIM and LinkedIn. Subscribe to Erin's latest HIM Scene posts here.


  • Erin, your clear and not long explanation about IG, is the best way to understand why sometimes I feel, that we have lost some years, trying to conciliate a concept for Healhtcare’s data management.
    Thank you, you gained a follower.
    And hoppfully HIM people will achieve asap this chalenge.
    Vicente Zuccaro

  • Thank you for your comment! Yes, we have our work cut out for us. I see Information Governance functions are a natural fit for HIM professionals and it’s now a matter of spreading the word and making Information Governance a household name in healthcare.

Click here to post a comment