Few individuals know what they want to do with their professional lives when they are adolescents, but AHIMA’s President-Elect Ann Chenoweth, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA, heard the call of health information management (HIM) early on.
Growing up in Anderson, IN, Chenoweth became interested in HIM—or medical records administration, as it was known then—after learning about it from a classmate’s mother who was the assistant director of medical records at Chenoweth’s hometown hospital.
Her focus has never waned in the intervening years. Chenoweth studied HIM at Indiana University, and worked in two different hospitals during the summers while she was in college. After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in medical records administration/HIM, she spent several years in Chicago hospital environments serving in roles including manager, associate director, and system director of HIM.
After several years working on the provider side of HIM she transitioned to sales and product development, working for several software and vendor companies, including Medicus Systems, the Medstat Group, and her current employer, 3M Health Information Systems (3M HIS)—where she’s been the senior director of industry relations for almost five years. She’s been with 3M for 15 years, in roles including product marketing manager, product line manager, and business manager–medical necessity and compliance.
The switch from working for a provider to working on the vendor side didn’t faze Chenoweth. While working full-time, she earned her MBA from DePaul University, which helped her understand both sides of the industry. In one of her jobs, she was hired to run and grow the Midwest office of a California-based HIM company expanding nationwide. Here she had full responsibility for profit and loss management, customer support, marketing, operations, and sales.
Tall Order for New Board Chair
Chenoweth brings, as chair of the AHIMA Board of Directors, a wealth of HIM and leadership experience to the job. In addition to her many years in the industry, she’s held volunteer leadership positions in the industry, including president of the Illinois Health Information Management Association, president of the Utah Healthcare Information and Management System Society, and as a member of AHIMA’s Board of Directors since 2012. She has also served on 3M’s operating committee and launched highly successful HIM products and services to the marketplace, while also running 3M HIS’ Lean Six Sigma Program, over which she had global and domestic oversight. Chenoweth also is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, and a noted speaker and author on such topics as healthcare transformation, payment reform, and information governance.
One of the most pressing concerns that HIM professionals face going forward, Chenoweth says, is keeping up with the pace of change.
“That’s where the lifelong learning and that commitment to continuous learning is so important… It’s not easy going back to school when you’re working. I’ve gone to grad school part-time when I worked full-time—and it’s not easy. But it’s so important, the pace of change, the structure of our industry is changing, technology is changing how we work,” she said.
For folks who can’t afford to go back to school or earn certifications, even actions such as having lunch with a data scientist or taking on extra projects in your own organization can help keep HIM professionals on their toes, she said.
“It’s a privilege to work at HIM in this time in history. It’s at the heart of this transformation,” Chenoweth said.
A Board President with Wanderlust
Chenoweth loves to stay busy, both professionally and recreationally. As a resident of Salt Lake City, UT for 15 years, she has mountains at her disposal year-round for countless skiing and hiking excursions. In addition to running, playing tennis, and taking pilates classes, she’s also an accomplished triathlete, having completed over 50 triathlons.
But Chenoweth’s true love is traveling the world, whether it’s by herself, with friends, or with her husband Clarke.
“I just realized when I was much younger that I never used to go on vacation, and I decided that I just need to spend my money doing something that’s not just accumulating things. So that was the choice I made a long time ago,” Chenoweth said.
Recent trips have included a visit to Patagonia in South America, Vietnam, the Dolomites in Italy, and Bhutan—a country that claims its gross domestic product is happiness.
Chenoweth says she doesn’t spend a lot of time researching where she goes next—life events just tend to dictate her decisions.
She was sitting in a café in Paris once, enjoying a glass of wine when a group of fellow travelers sat down nearby, engaged her in conversation, and convinced her she needed to go on safari in South Africa.
“So I did it and it was wonderful. I loved it. When you talk to people and have those experiences, the interesting places just bubble to the top,” she said.