ROI 101 Blog

The Release of Information 101 blog provides an educational forum on the basics of release of information, the process involved and challenges faced within hospitals and physician or group practices.

speaker-rbowenRita Bowen, MA, RHIA, CHPS, SSGB is a distinguished professional with over 20 years of experience in the health information management industry. She serves as the Sr. Vice President of HIM and Privacy Officer of HealthPort where she is responsible for acting as an internal customer advocate. Most recently, Ms. Bowen served as the Enterprise Director of HIM Services for Erlanger Health System for 13 years, where she received commendation from the hospital county authority for outstanding leadership. Ms. Bowen is the recipient of Mentor FORE Triumph Award and Distinguished Member of AHIMA’s Quality Management Section. She has served as the AHIMA President and Board Chair in 2010, a member of AHIMA’s Board of Directors (2006-2011), the Council on Certification (2003-2005) and various task groups including CHP exam and AHIMA’s liaison to HIMSS for the CHS exam construction (2002).  

Ms. Bowen is an established speaker on diverse HIM topics and an active author on privacy and legal health records. She served on the CCHIT security and reliability workgroup and as Chair of Regional Committees East-Tennessee HIMSS and co-chair of Tennessee’s e-HIM group. She is an adjunct faculty member of the Chattanooga State HIM program and UT Memphis HIM Master’s program. She also serves on the advisory board for Care Communications based in Chicago, Illinois.

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  • CIOs and IT Professionals Perk Up for Information Governance at HIMSS

    May 21, 2015

    Healthcare executives and IT professionals have a responsibility to ensure stewardship of trusted information that promotes optimal patient care and organizational performance. Achieving trust in information requires information governance (IG), which requires strong collaborative leadership. The good news is that healthcare CIOs and IT professionals are paying attention to the value of IG for their organizations.

    HIMSS Heightens Interest in IG

    At the 2015 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition[J1] , April 12-16 in Chicago, our session on Seven Opportunities for Stronger Information Governance [J2] attracted 800 attendees—at an IT conference, no less. In collaboration with Maria Muscarella, assistant vice president, HIM, EMR & privacy officer, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, we focused on five objectives:

    • Analyze recent industry reports, research findings and provider experiences related to IG practices, including AHIMA's IG principles. [J3]
    • Identify steps to begin an IG program within healthcare organizations.
    • Describe ways to bolster information integrity including stronger data dictionaries, data mapping, problem identification and information use across the enterprise.
    • Show the effects of poor quality data on provider trust, patient care, reimbursement, quality, safety and e-discovery compliance.
    • Recognize steps taken by Newark Beth Israel Medical Center to include IG initiatives in EHR implementation.

    While some organizations have taken steps to build an IG program, most are still in the beginning stage. Only a few attendees said their programs were well along in the process. Challenges include leadership buy-in/support, proving the need for IG, education, planning and monitoring.

    Whether an organization is just getting started or refining its program, here are four strategies for advancing IG: 

    • Assess existing policies, procedures and systems for capturing, processing, delivering and storing data. Set priorities that support the facility’s top goals.
    • Engage a senior sponsor by showing the business value of IG—quality of care, cost reduction, compliance, improved patient outcomes, risk mitigation, accurate reimbursement.
    • Create an interdisciplinary team including HIM, IT, compliance, C-suite, revenue cycle, legal and risk management.
    • Develop a plan for implementing the AHIMA principles. Identify an enthusiastic, well-respected champion to help guide the effort.

    HIM must be involved from the beginning. Their knowledge, skills and experience will help achieve the benefits of IG.

    IT Publications Promote IG

    As the electronic revolution in healthcare gains ground, IT publications are now featuring articles on IG. Soon after AHIMA released its IG framework, CIO magazine [J4] published a piece on the eight principles, IG as a strategic asset, and the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration.

    In March 2015, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review[J5]  featured HealthPort’s article, “Strengthening information governance—the evolving role of IT.” And the most recent issue of ADVANCE Executive Insight [J6] followed with the first in a my series of articles providing key steps to achieve each of the IG principles. 

    With IT media focused on IG in healthcare, CIOs and IT professionals are beginning to understand its value and their role as collaborative leaders. IG makes good business sense. It’s a work in progress—an investment well worth the effort.

  • Learning from Florida Hospital

    Mar 04, 2015

    ROI Peak Performer Speaks Out

    For the Record magazine interviewed Florida Hospital last month as part of their February 2015 article on ROI peak performers. Florida Hospital is ranked the #1 hospital in Florida according to the 2014-2015 U.S. News & World Report. They are also a winner of the National Research Corporation’s 2014-2015 Consumer Choice award based on consumer perceptions. Florida Hospital is definitely a peak performer! And their ROI process may be one of the reasons. 

    This article contains important lessons for every large, multi-location health system. Here are three keys takeaways for HIM Directors that manage the ROI process:  

    • EHRs open the door for new ROI partnership options. Florida Hospital moved from complete ROI outsourcing to become a HealthPort Partner—a popular, shared approach to ROI that should be considered.
    • Multi-location health systems must unify ROI policies, procedures and request processing across the entire organization, including a centralized call center. 
    • Leverage the ROI process to elevate HIM’s role throughout the organization. Since centralizing, Florida Hospital’s ROI team has become the “experts” on all issues related to information release. 

    Peer to peer learning is important for every HIM professional. Thanks to Florida Hospital for sharing their ROI journey and its impact on patient satisfaction.

  • Reining in ROI Rates

    Feb 25, 2015

    What is a reasonable cost? 

    In the November 2014 issue of For the Record, Jan McDavid, general counsel and compliance officer for HealthPort, joined four other release of information (ROI) experts to discuss varying rates and reimbursement for fulfilling medical record requests in electronic environments. While four states leave rate-setting up to the provider, most others have specific fee statutes for individuals and their representatives to obtain records. 

    ROI rates are “all over the board,” as the article states. According to Jan, “It’s likely that legislators simply don’t have a real grasp on the issues involved when they’re setting these rates.” Many assume that EHRs make ROI easier and cheaper. However, this is not always the case—especially when patients have several admissions across multiple electronic systems, and over longer periods of time. 

    To read more about record rates in your state, check out this informative article
  • Helping Patients Understand Portals

    Nov 06, 2014

    Handy Handout for Your Patients

    Portals provide patients with access to important information within their records. They are an empowering tool to help individuals become more engaged in their own healthcare. In addition, your organization must ensure patients are enrolled and using your portal in order to meet Meaningful Use requirements. 

    But how can you get reluctant patients engaged and on board? Handy handouts help!

    Alisha Smith, RHIA, HealthPort’s HIM Educator recently authored a patient handout entitled, “Patient Portals & You.” The handout, published on ADVANCE for Nursing, is a helpful document for physicians, clinics and even acute care hospitals.  Alisha suggests posting the handout in your waiting room, exam room or HIM department.

    Written for patients and their families, the handout explains the benefits of a patient portal and why it’s important to access one’s own health information. Alisha also provides tips for using portals and shares the importance of keeping a patient’s information private and secure. 

    In addition to this handout, AHIMA offers valuable resources to better understand patient portals and the role HIM plays in supporting them. AHIMA’s Patient Engagement Practice Council published a handout earlier this year to help patients and their families prepare for physician visits. The “Preparing for a Doctor’s Visit” reference guide and checklist is available here and posted on AHIMA’s MyPHR.com website.  


    Getting patients on board with portals is a win-win for everyone!

  • Patient Portals and Online Records

    Sep 29, 2014
    Patient portals and online access to electronic health information are becoming as commonplace as FitBit® and ice buckets. They are seemingly everywhere. 

    Driven by Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements, the wave of patient portals and healthcare consumerism is growing. HIM professionals must know how to ride it.


    In the August 2014 issue of For the Record, HealthPort’s Alisha Smith, RHIA, HIM Educator, reminds us that “aggressively addressing the associated privacy challenges will be critical to maintaining momentum.” However, despite privacy concerns, “the opportunities for more patient engagement, new career paths, and the goal of improving patient outcomes are just a few positives that will far outweigh the challenges.” 

    Read the full article in For the Record: The Friends and Family Plan for Online Records. And get ready to ride the patient portal wave! 

    Full Story >

  • Growth of Patient Portals Create New ROI Specialist Opportunities

    May 15, 2014
    With the increase of patient portals, release of information (ROI) is at the forefront of meeting high consumer demand for health information. Potential new opportunities lie ahead for ROI Specialists—promoting greater patient engagement and customer satisfaction. 

    Read my full article from AHIMA’s Career Minded newsletter to learn more.

  • Chasing Data Integrity: What CFOs Need to Know

    May 01, 2014

    Data integrity is critical to ensuring quality of care and accurate payment for services—making it a top priority for the CFO. Because the costs associated with poor data quality can be hidden, accounting for a significant percentage of lost revenue, information governance is a form of risk management that healthcare finance leaders cannot afford to ignore. 

    The CFO plays a pivotal role in promoting data integrity within a healthcare organization. Working collaboratively with HIM professionals to create an enterprisewide data strategy supports the business value of quality data: high-quality care, comprehensive research, positive patient outcomes, proper payment, strategic decision-making, and more. 

    Read our complete article from hfm magazine to discover the essential elements of an information governance program, along with four strategies for achieving data integrity. 

    Read the full article...

  • Pave the way for data governance and integrity in the New Year

    Apr 25, 2014

    Data is healthcare’s greatest asset, and HIM professionals are—and always will be—the stewards of that data. Now is the time to embrace that role as advocates for data governance, one of AHIMA’s top five strategic initiatives for 2014-2017. 

    To do so means threading HIM core principles of data integrity through the entire organization as the industry migrates to an electronic environment and makes the shift to ICD-10. Effective strategies are needed to promote data governance—a data dictionary and data map, policies to address amendments and copy-and-paste documentation, and more. 

    Opportunities abound for HIM professionals to showcase their knowledge in new and emerging roles as they become key industry resources for ensuring the integrity of healthcare data. Read about a few of them in my recent article in ADVANCE for Health Information Professionals. 

  • Rita's HIMSS 2014 interview

    Mar 31, 2014

    At HIMSS 2014, Rita Bowen participated in an interview with HITECH Answers with other C-level executives. Rita discussed the importance of data integrity in breach prevention.

    Click here to hear Rita's interview.

  • Going Forward with HIPAA Omnibus

    Feb 03, 2014

    With the arrival of the HIPAA Omnibus Rule in early 2013, audits are on the horizon and a penalty structure has been outlined. In the Bloomberg BNA: Health IT Law and Industry Report, Rita Bowen discusses the three key issues that covered entities (CEs) and their business associates (BAs) must continue to manage and monitor in 2014.

    Bloomberg BNA Article- Going Forward with HIPAA Omnibus- Rita Bowen

  • Omnibus Compliance Requires Multiple Departments

    Aug 21, 2013

    Now is the time for IT departments to shift focus away from implementing software and managing hardware and toward enterprise-wide information management. HIM professionals are IT's strongest allies in launching any type of data governance initiative. Collaboration ensures data quality and integrity are protected so that information is always "fit for use."

    IT departments must work together with HIM counterparts to satisfy new patient access requirements of HIPAA Omnibus. Similar to Stage 1 and Stage 2 Meaningful Use criteria, CEs are required to provide copies of electronic records to patients in a format that is requested (provided the organization has the technology to comply with that request). It is up to each facility as to how this rule will be met (CD, USB, encrypted email, etc.). IT and HIM must discuss how to respond to these requests.

    Read more...

  • Coping with Omnibus Rule Changes for HIM

    Aug 15, 2013

    Practical Changes in HIM Practice

    Understanding HIPAA compliance just keeps getting more complicated for HIM professionals. Changes to the HIPAA rules announced in January 2013 were meant to simplify and streamline patient access to information. In reality, it added layers of complexity for release of information (ROI) processing. The new rules are already in effect, and penalties for non-compliance commence on September 23, 2013. 

    The time is now for HIM professionals and their information technology (IT) peers to shore-up processes and procedures. New patient rights mean new provider restrictions, IT system demands and workflow requirements.

    Continue reading...

  • Breach Risk Assessment: No Harm, No Foul?

    Jul 02, 2013

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' recent HIPAA Omnibus clarifies many of the gray areas that lingered from the HITECH Act. It provides guidance in performing a breach risk assessment in instances when data is compromised. 

    Fact is, in the not-so-distant past, many covered entities and business associates experienced breaches of private health information (PHI) and failed to act. They failed not only to inform the patients of the breaches, but they also failed to document why they didn't report the breach. If the HIPAA Omnibus works as designed, this sort of negligence will no longer be tolerated. Learn more on the latest trends and best practices when dealing with health information compliance.

    Read more

  • Breach Notification Triggers Receive Update

    Apr 10, 2013

    Rita Bowen was recently quoted in a Journal of AHIMA article discussing far-reaching changes in the HIPAA Rule with Bas, including financial incentives for compliance.

    Click here for the article.

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