The AHIMA Convention & Exchibit is an annual conference about healthcare management. More than four thousand experts participated in the conference this year. In case you are interested in the field, you shouldn’t miss it next time.
Where I come from, and as I was growing up, I remember clearly that there was a dream that many parents shared: to see their children growing to become doctors. Of course, lawyers were equally popular among most parents’ dreams: which parent wouldn’t have dreamed to see his or her precious child graduating law school? Not many, I can assure you of that! Nevertheless, becoming a doctor was probably even more prestigious. Doctors were always seen (and I don’t think that this will ever dramatically change) as prominent members of the society. Unless robots take over one day in the very remote future, doctors will still be around, offering their services to their fellow citizens and whoever needs them.
Societies are not something fixed, though; as a matter of fact, they are constantly changing. Nowadays, with the emergence of information society, there is a profession that rapidly gained popularity. Healthcare Information Professionals (HIM) are altering the professional landscape of the world of medicine, responding to the present needs of developed societies.
The meteoric rise of the role of information management nowadays, paralleled by the sudden death of the era when professionals had to deal with paper records stored in desks and folders, have created the need for specialized professionals in data and records management in all professional fields. In hospitals, HIM professionals are becoming more and more necessary, as the way we understand medicine and the treatment of patients is also rapidly transforming.
Data management doesn’t concern only the specialized companies that are dealing with information management and storage. On the contrary, in every professional field the need for more efficient use of data is urgent. Today, the use of data in order to optimize healthcare for patients is as urgent as it has never been before. Therefore, the whole essence of what is the role of a HIM professional has totally changed.
Education is also affected by these developments. Universities that offer health information management degree programs are focusing more and more on data analysis and research, today more than ever before. Students receive training in computer software programs to analyze data. Generally speaking, it becomes more and more obvious that in our times any professional must have basic knowledge of computer programming and must acquire the necessary skills for a job office that is getting much more complicated than it used to be. If you ask the elder in the profession how it used to be decades ago, you will hear stories of a remote era. Along with the technological advancement even the job realities changed and we definitely have to keep up the pace, even enjoy the benefits of what it’s being offered in terms of improved services and efficiency.
A direct consequence of the increasing importance of information technology in the field of healthcare information management is the larger number of men to be hired in a previously female-dominated profession. What is more, and according to the experts in the field, what is becoming more evident as time passes is that all HIM professionals must be ready to adapt relatively fast to new challenges and that they must keep an open eye to the rapid and continuous changes in their professional field.
As for the future, AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) is already planning and trying to explore new possibilities. One idea is supposedly to try to organize the HIM profession in a large collaborative project, where professionals are working together in the way that NASA’s Mission Control Center operates. The leading figures in the field also agree that a higher level of education must be pursued by the HIM professionals, an education that must include information governance skills and knowledge as well.
Sure, the world is changing. Sometimes we feel glad about it, but occasionally we get stressed trying to keep up with the… changes! One thing is for certain, though: nowadays, education is a lifelong project and everyone must remember Solon, the wise ancient Greek, who once said… “as I grow older, I constantly learn more”… Maybe parents should learn that being a doctor is not the only prestigious profession in the field anymore and that being a healthcare information manager is just as demanding.
It would have certainly been absolutely great if we could have predicted all of the possible disasters. Life would have been much easier and comfortable; we wouldn’t have to be afraid of anything. Wait a minute, though; don’t you all agree that in that way life would have been something completely different from what it is now? I’m quite sure you would have agreed on this. And maybe you would have agreed that even though during our lives certain bad things happen we do love the fact that life is unpredictable… just like love is after all!
The unpredictable is an essential part of our human life; we learn how to cope with it as time goes by. Sometimes it’s hard and some other times it’s much easier; the fact remains that no one can have absolute control of his life. Eventually, things that we haven’t planned might occur and disrupt our peace and quiet; the important thing is to know how to prevent them in the future – if this is an option, that is…
A loss of a human life for example cannot be replaced by another; every human life is unique. The rule does not apply to things, though, whatever these might be. We might be able to replace what we have lost in a case of a fire even if it might take some time. Thing is, that there could be ways to prevent some disasters from taking place in the first place. Take for example the fire that occurred a few months earlier in Macomb County, Michigan, which destroyed the county’s servers and entire phone system. There was one thing missing that could limit down the terrible effects of this event and that was a backup data center.
It even sounds weird to my ears; in 2013 I simply cannot imagine that people leave in chance things as important as the proper functioning of a county’s daily operations. A backup data center could have left the county having to deal only with the damages of the building. They would have been sure at least that their data and all of their valuable records would have been safe. Some years earlier a data system failure caused the loss of the jail records of the county.
Nowadays, it goes without a saying that disaster recovery is more than essential for any company or business that wishes to do business in a serious and effective way. Check here http://ironmountain.co.uk/services/records-management-offsite for disaster recovery services by Iron Mountain, one of the leading companies on the field. Their services come as the longed-for answer to puzzling situations that we might confront ourselves with on a daily basis nowadays, in the full blossom of informational society.
What is more, according to reports the county was planning to build a new data center to replace the existing one. Nonetheless, a backup data center seems that it wasn’t in their plans, which surely indicate the fact that there is a strong need for essential changes on data management. Indeed, in the era of big data, there is no room for mistakes like this. The Macomb case should become an example on how things shouldn’t get done; we must always live and act according to our times!
When I was still a child, I honestly couldn’t have imagined that we would have lived in times where information is so much a critical issue. However, one would safely argue that information was always driving the world – as information is power. In our times, though, we are capable of preserving this information much more adequately in comparison to previous historical times.
One can only dream on how history would have evolved if humans were once able to preserve their knowledge against time… the burning of the library of Alexandria simply meant that the world lost forever tons of information that could have possibly altered history as we know it. It is certainly very hopeful to think that we live in a world where such catastrophes could never happen again. The digital era which we live in made it easy for us to store and preserve unlimited amounts of data; the only thing left is for us to take advantage of what we have at our disposal…
When I was young I used to collect all sorts of things: cd’s with my favorite music, magazine articles for things that interested me, coins, DVD’s, gadgets from my holiday’s destinations and even matchboxes for a short while. The reason is obvious: it was the simple desire to store and preserve everything that made me happy or brought to me good memories from the past. Well, it is a habit I kind of miss since I grew up a little bit. I remember the joy and the feeling of satisfaction every time I felt like updating or even checking on one of my boyish collections. It was a true feeling of joy!
What does it mean to grow up? Well, it means that the necessities of life knock at your door at some time (along with the pleasures of the adult life that is). A necessity of adult life couldn’t be other than the need to gather and preserve data that concern your professional life. You might need to do it by yourself if you are an accountant that works from home. Or, you might need to do it for your company if you’re one of the lucky ones that has his own office downtown (in the times of high rates of unemployment around Europe, yes, this is what I call luck!).
How many times a company had to face devastating results in the light of a mismanagement of its data? I guess it must be many! Nowadays especially, the need of a company to store its data in an appropriate way it’s not only a necessity directed from the need to operate smoothly and efficiently but it is also a matter of stricter regulations and policies concerning data management and archive storage. E.U. recent regulations have generated heated discussions concerning the issue. Nevertheless, what matters in this case is not how things should have been but how one can adjust to new realities.
Iron Mountain provides excellent services for document storage. The company simply gathers the documents and stores them to their off-site storage facilities. Web services offered by the company provide an easy and quick access to your archive. What is more, you can label, search and of course request a retrieval of documents at any time. Iron Mountain has over 1.000 storage facilities around the world and has been operating on the field since 1951. Now, this is what I call a safe choice if you want to guarantee business continuity for your own company!
Apart from storing data and information though, there is also another necessity. It consists of the simple fact that some data, some information, needs to be destroyed. And this is another sensitive issue that has been thoroughly discussed by everyone concerned: individuals, companies, institutions and governmental agencies. It goes like this: some information is valuable (it could costs millions sometimes!) and some other is simply, from a point onward, confidential waste, meaning simply waste. And these are confidential waste that a company must get rid of.
In addition, by being waste it means that you need to make proper use of them! The world we live in faces a problem, we all know it: it is the single most crucial problem this planet faces and will need to face in the future and it’s the ecological one. I will put it bluntly: if we want to imagine that sometime from now in the future normal life will still go on than we really need to start protecting the environment. In other words, your confidential waste must become recycling material and obviously this is a job that needs to be handled professionally.
Many companies choose to outsource the job of destroying their data in order to keep up with data destruction requirements and ecological concerns. Usually, they are provided with locked consoles which are emptied on a regular basis by the external company’s stuff. The waste will be 100% recycled. In addition, a small company that wishes to avoid signing a contract, it can request on-demand shredding services by another company. That means that they can use their services whenever is needed as a small company probably doesn’t need to deal with huge amount of information and confidential waste that is.
This whole issue is all about responsibility and transparency in case you didn’t get it. I only hope that most companies will comply with all of the the rules and regulations…
Hollywood also needs its preservation expert
We live in an era when the right to joy and entertainment nearly equals other rights, such as that right to the pursuit of happiness, for instance. Especially during the last decades, and at least in the Western world, everyone seems to be very concerned with this need, urge and desire for a little bit more entertainment. It is as if most of us are pursuing our happiness in some dream-like worlds, settings and contexts revealed and offered to us by the means of entertainment. Even if ephemeral, they do trigger our wildest imagination and inspire us, getting our energy level up, even if for a little while. It might be only natural, since , honestly speaking, not all of us people have the resources or opportunity to go on the pursuit of happiness for real and for granted, with many chances of getting there and also decreased risks of losing it on the way.
Given the situation, no wonder everything seems to be more pleasurable today. Did you ever take a look at Google’s offices around the world for example? If so, you must have gotten that feeling that those people in there are having fun most of the time instead of actually working hard! Or that those are the offices of the future just as well, for the sake of the health and well being of those spending most of their time in their workplace. Indeed, it was in the 1960’s when people – citizens of this world – demanded “play” and “joy” to be universal rights. Therefore, even at work one shouldn’t be deprived of the right to play, enjoy and have some fun…
Based on the aforementioned, the world of entertainment grew till it became huge – larger than life, one might argue. It is one of the biggest and most profitable industries worldwide. People in the U.S. or in Europe tend to ask for more and more cultural products, giving this impression that they simply can’t have enough! It’s never enough also due to the fact that technology has made things much more exciting.
Nothing is static nowadays and there is always something new around, even when you might have thought that you had had enough… Take the movie industry, for example: the introduction of 3D technology came at the moment when many viewers had already started to prefer their home cinema over the big screen. After the release of the first blockbusters in 3D, I don’t think that many would choose to watch Iron Man 3 at home! Of course, there is always this option of purchasing a 3D television set for the living room; however, it still does not equal the pleasure derived by the higher 3D technology used in a cinema hall.
Talking about entertainment, I simply cannot imagine our modern lives without Hollywood. Because Hollywood, only by its name being echoed, actually, signifies the Eldorado of world entertainment! It is there, in California, where the heart of popular entertainment is endlessly pumping. And for this heart to go on, we also need the ideal means of preserving all of those enjoyable little treasures.
This is when the specialists in safeguarding the product of our work come into the picture. Iron Mountain Entertainment Services are the world’s single largest center on film, sound, and digital preservation services. In case you were wondering what Universal Studios, Sony, Corbis, Universal Music Group and Paramount Pictures might have in common, other than producing and distributing tons of cultural products for our eyes only, well, then here is your answer: they all trust Iron Mountain’s valuable services. This leading company world-wide when it comes to data protection or information and records management among other services, hosts safely around 22 million elements produced and owned by over 1.200 media and entertainment companies.
Their services are complete and complex and include analog to digital transfer, real-time film viewing and videotape cleaning, among many other much needed services in the industry. Not to forget their 2 petabyte (PB) online Digital Content Repository, where companies can store and retrieve their digital material! It is hosted at the now enlarged Iron Mountain’s Digital Studios in… Hollywood. Where else could they have been than in Hollywood!?
So here you have it: as long as this world is driven by information and informational material (which is what the entertainment industry is actually using and constantly producing), we will also need a preservation expert. We need someone that can guarantee to us that nothing will be lost, since we live in an era when information is crucial, but also sensitive and vulnerable. If you have ever lost even a small movies collection that you might have gathered on your computer because of a minor error or because the system crashed, you might then know what I mean …
You are surely familiar with all of those American movies of the fifties about the Wild Wild West, its brave cowboys and sheriffs, about all that gold rush and the fight to keep one’s own resources safe and well protected. A common message that trans-passes all of these good old movies of the fifties is the following: it is often difficult to protect your property and your precious resources and it definitely is a tricky business to keep threats away and manage your own way smoothly. What we all know about these movies is that their plot develops around itchy issues: crossing the boundary of private property, raids and robberies and all sorts of threats towards one’s resources or belongings. For sure, the Wild Wild West has always been the harshest challenge!
Nowadays, the battle and the whole threat went online – especially for companies and corporations! What’s at stake is privacy, like always! along with discretion and a safe and secure storage, scanning and management of the data. You surely do not want your data to be invaded by unwanted eyes or visited by uninvited guests! You might want to keep private what is yours and what is meant to be kept this way – both private and of your own! And, for sure, you do not want to be lost into an infinity of information that sometimes seems impossible to handle – it is, for sure, a Sisyphus’ job to search into endless amounts of archived information, not knowing where to start from or even where to store it!
Anyway, do not panic! There are bright solutions to come to your rescue and protection! Like, for instance, great professional services that take care of your confidential waste. Confidential waste is nothing else than data that you consider that you do not need anymore and that it is to be thrown away. However, see confidential waste as the furthest away borders of your property, that need to be protected nevertheless, just as the closest of your boundaries, as they are still yours and you want them as such, as you want them to be confidential until their “end”. Do not forget that confidential waste is still part of your property – at least in intellectual terms – and it should always be. In order to be so, you do not have anything to do but contract the specialized services offered to you and your company and let it all on the hands of the professionals!
Of course, you can also benefit from similar services that can prove useful both with managing data and protecting it, be it archived data or that of active use. Imagine that your data could be protected of all risks and challenges! Imagine that you could at once be carefree about the data you possess and you need to protect and manage! Imagine that there could be a way for your company to get rid of the burden of keeping huge amounts and piles of files and records, careful not to vanish and careful not to burn. Oh well, nowadays there is such a thing like records management and it takes care of all of the aforementioned burdens for you and even more of that!
In other words, you can’t do it today without a proper a data recovery plan. Your documents and the documents of your company must be safely stored in special storage spaces secured and protected from all unwanted threats. So, your (intellectual) property can finally be safe and sound, untouched and untainted by unwanted intruders over your fence!
Records management services can include not only the archived data, but also the management your active files – in the most discreet and efficient manner! All of the active files of your company can be kept safe and sound, but still be accessible and all of them able to be accessed in a timely manner. All of those precious files containing important information are to be kept secured, just like in a safe box, with all of the advantages conferred by outsourcing – such as not having your precious space occupied with papers, files and having to manage them yourself! Having someone taking care of all of that hassle for you! And all with the maximum of guaranteed discretion!
Not to mention that, if you want to and choose so, your documents can easily be scanned and digitized for an even easier access! But that is another story, that will happen in some other “movie”…maybe one of the science fiction genre…
Let’s now stick to our Westerns. Wouldn’t all of those guys there living in the Wild Wild West have liked to be protected, along with all their borders and belongings!? Of course they would have! Well, see the similarities between the life of a cowboy and that of a company or corporation nowadays in charge of taking care of its intellectual property and of its private borders and limitations imposed by incumbent secrecy. You surely want to be saved of threats! And it is time to think about doing it, especially today, when we all spend most of your time running around the … Wild Wide Web! I wish you good luck with your data management and protection and hope you handle with all of that confidential waste! Hasta la vista!