AHIMA Rallies House of Delegates to Advocate for ICD-10

Members of the AHIMA House of Delegates got a chance to kick off their own personal ICD-10 advocacy campaigns during the group’s meeting on Sunday. The House also got updates on information governance (IG) and best practices in advocacy during the meeting.

Critical Updates on ICD-10 Action

AHIMA President Angela Kennedy, EdD, MBA, RHIA, and AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, FACHE, CAE, FAHIMA, started the day with a description of AHIMA’s most recent activities.

Gordon said that the association had launched a grass-roots advocacy campaign to enlist members to let Congress know how much implementation of the ICD-10 coding systems matters to healthcare. The campaign aims to mobilize component state associations (CSAs) in advocacy activities to prevent another ICD-10 implementation delay. Gordon mentioned that since the launch of the campaign this summer, members have sent more than 7,000 letters to Congress.

“We are working hard to advise the industry about ICD-10,” Gordon said. “But what’s making the difference is you. The people in your state are making a difference. Keep doing it.”

Kennedy echoed Gordon’s encouragement.

“It’s phenomenal footwork that you’ve done, and I ask you to keep it up,” Kennedy told the delegates.

Gordon also described AHIMA’s work to create a deeper understanding of information governance in healthcare. “If we want to meet the Triple Aim, we have to have great information,” Gordon said. “Your C-suite is very frustrated when they can’t get the information they need. It’s up to us to make sure we have great data.”

AHIMA will unveil its latest product, the first Information Governance Principles for Healthcare, during this week’s convention. “This is really, really big for AHIMA,” Kennedy said. “This is the one time we are the first to the market.”

Become Social Media Savvy

Dana Clark, AHIMA’s digital media marketing manager, and Margarita Valdez, AHIMA’s director of congressional relations, gave delegates a quick primer on getting engaged with social media for advocacy, including basics for Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s people on social media who are getting the news out first…and it’s a way to stay connected to friends and family,” Clark said. “It is such a massive community to reach out to new people.”

Valdez noted that social media is replacing faxes and letters as ways to contact legislators.

“Social media is here to stay; it’s not a fad, and it’s where we can make an impact on advocacy,” Valdez said. “You are making a very loud noise on Capitol Hill with phone calls and social media.”

Valdez urged the audience to follow their members of Congress on Twitter and YouTube and “like” their pages on Facebook. She also urged them to create their own social media posts related to the #ICD-10 Matters campaign, using links to AHIMA items or resources from the Coalition for ICD-10. A “Tweet sheet” with tips and suggestions was distributed at the meeting, and is also available in the Engage Communities.

Clark and Valdez urged members to use their phones and iPads to take selfies with an ICD-10 banner and tweet to their members of Congress with pro-ICD-10 messages with the hashtag #ICD10Matters. The photos can be seen at Twitter.com by searching on the hashtag.

Advocacy Success Stories Shared

A panel of delegates shared their experiences and insights gained from advocating for a speedy transition to ICD-10.

Communication was a must, the panelists said, to mobilize AHIMA members and even members of the public. The most popular channels were e-blasts, CSA newsletters, CSA websites and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

These channels were used to encourage members to write or call their members of Congress to advocate for no delay.

States are also encouraged to reach out to their individual members of Congress for meetings and conference calls on the topic.

Sandra Huyck, RHIT, CCS-P, CPC/H, of the Michigan Health Information Management Association, reported encouraging results from a recent call with US House member, Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI), who is also a physician.

“We knew the call would be challenging because he was a cosponsor of the Cutting Costly Codes Act [which would prevent the implementation of ICD-10],” Huyck said. “But to our surprise we learned that not only was he open to future discussions, he acknowledged the need to move to an updated classification system.” Huyck said. “He had some concerns about the volume of codes and the time and effort it would take physicians to learn them.”

The Michigan Health Information Management Association was able to answer Benishek’s concerns and even invited his office to attend the recent ICD-10 briefing in Washington, DC, hosted by the Coalition for ICD-10. The CSA expects to plan additional meetings with other members this fall, Huyck added.


Catch up on the news and get insights from AHIMA’s 86th annual Convention and Exhibit held September 27-October 2 in San Diego, CA. For a complete list of event coverage on the Journal of AHIMA website, click here.

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