Health Information Managers – a multi-faceted profession

Task Profile
A task profile of Health Information Managers (Ger.:”Medizinische. Dokumentare”) encompasses organisation and documentation, statistical procedures and data processing in the field of medicine.

The most significant characteristic of this education in different, graded levels of qualification is the linking of well-grounded knowledge in medicine and health information management with knowledge in information technology. This goal is accomplished through the acquisition of knowledge, skills and decision-making capabilities in the following subjects: Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology and Pharmacology in connection with Medical Documentation, Clinical Trials, Statistics and Literature-Documentation. Further elements of this education are technical English, hospital management and data privacy.

Fields of Application
The variety of the education corresponds to the different possible fields of application of Health Information Managers in hospitals, medical research institutes, in pharmaceutical industry and medical-technical industry, in private research institutes, in health boards, oncological post-care coordination centres, in the Association of Compulsory Health Insurance (CHI) Physicians, in health insurance companies, software companies and big group practices.

Graded Qualification Levels

Different courses of education allow for graded levels of qualification within medical documentation:

Furthermore, there is the “Graduated HIM Specialist” (Ger.:”Diplom-Dokumentar”, now changed to “Bachelor”), graduating after 8 semesters of studies at a University for Applied Sciences (Ger.: “Fachhochschule”, FH).

Another course of education at a full-time vocational school is that of the “Assistant for Health Information Management” (Ger.:”Medizinischer Dokumentationsassistent”, “MDA”), requiring ”Mittlere Reife” (“Intermediate School Level Leaving Certificate”, comparable to former “O-levels”/“CSE”, or nowadays to 6 passed GCSEs) for admission and two years of training (exception: the federal state of Saxony, with three years).

Ranging at a comparable professional level, the 3-years education for becoming a “Professional in Media- and Information Services” (Ger.: “Fachangestellter für Medien- und Informationsdienste”, “FaMI”) is carried out within the German “Dual System” of training at a vocational school and the company or institution that took on the apprentice.

Professional Tasks

Part of the professional tasks in the operational areas described above are the basic documentation concerning patient records and the development of an electronic patient-record (EPR, Ger.: EPA) that needs to fulfil a range of different requirements. In the age of DRG, demands like an effective planning of patient care, economic performance controlling and the requested compliance with legal standards can be guaranteed in a hospital only through a complete and valid coding of diagnoses and procedures. Together with physicians and care personnel, Health Information Managers thus assume important functions in meeting these demands.

On the field of internal quality assurance, within a team, Health Information Managers take over tasks like the design of standard forms and on-screen forms as well as the implementation of surveys, the development of data bases and the statistical evaluation of collected information.

Within the field of quality benchmarking, Health Information Managers provide important support for the data report to the German Federal Office for Quality Assurance (Ger.: “Bundesgeschäftsstelle für Qualitätssicherung”, BQS).

The task of data processing comprises the support and the maintenance of IT-equipment and their respective system- and application programmes, the design and implementation of data bases for therapy studies and specialized documentation, as well as the documentation of this field of functions. In a hospital, Health Information Managers are involved in the development of hospital information and communication systems, in programming, in user training and support, and in the further development and customisation of software.

Health Information Managers are significantly involved in planning, implementation and support of specialized documentation on questions and topics from the fields of medical research, drug study, epidemiology, health economics and cost analysis in health care.

Statistical evaluations represent another field of functions. Together with physicians and biometricians, Health Information Managers develop questionnaires for clinical therapy studies and epidemiologic studies. They design corresponding data bases with respective screen masks and check incoming data for completeness, consistency and plausibility. As data managers, they are responsible for the fusion of all incoming data and for compiling a correct evaluation data file. By means of suitable, computer-aided tests and testing methods, they perform the necessary statistical evaluations, summarise the statistical results in tables and diagrams, and write part of the final report.

For drug studies, Health Information Managers develop the necessary standard forms, perform the respective randomisation and supervise the progression of the studies which are necessary for the approval of a compound, in accordance with Good Clinical Practice- standards. In doing so, Health Information Managers are/ function as/ figure as a link(ing-pin)/tie between initiator(Prüfzentrum)/sponsor/ordering party/customer and study site/ test centre// inspection authority.

On the field of pharmaceutical drug safety, Health Information Managers are in charge of the development and maintenance of the data base for medical side effects. Furthermore, they are responsible for on-schedule- transaction of the notification obligations// of the obligatory notifications to the respectively concerned authorities. The same applies to Health Information Managers who work on the field of approval of pharmaceutical products.

In literature documentation, Health Information Managers carry out the selection and acquisition, the formal capture and the content -related indexing of medical literature. Furthermore, they perform online-inquiries in appropriate literature-databases and the internet and check the result of the query for relevance according to the customer’s request.