2016 Convention: Skills Gap, Patients, and Strategy: Topics on Preparing for the Future

Preparation for the future—of work, of healthcare, and of the health information management (HIM) profession—was the common theme through several presentations at Tuesday’s General Session.

Speaker Emily Stover DeRocco spoke about closing the “skills gap” in the American workforce.

Speaker Emily Stover DeRocco spoke about closing the “skills gap” in the American workforce.

“Your HIM workplaces are in the midst of change,” speaker Emily Stover DeRocco told the audience during the AHIMA Foundation Thought Leaders lecture. And HIM is not alone: the nature of work has changed across industries, and the demographics, expectations, and desires of the workforce are changing, too.

DeRocco, a consultant with E3 and director of the National Network of Business and Industry Associations, of which the AHIMA Foundation is a member, said that “the supply of American labor is not matching the demands of the US job market.” To close this “skills gap,” DeRocco identified five challenges that must be addressed:

Need for navigation tools: The pace of change is so fast, it is impossible for people to understand what a career will entail. Tools are needed to illustrate paths available; this is challenging as “the foundations of these pathways are being rewritten every day,” she said.

Need for common employability skills (the employability skills needed for workplace success in any position, regardless of industry): These must be purposefully taught, she said.

Need for strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills: Members of the workforce with strong technology skills are more likely to find more pathways to new careers than others, DeRocco said.

Need for a better understanding of the needs of the job market to change the way employers define career opportunities. This could promote common competencies across different sectors and potentially open up bigger talent pools.

Need for business and education to reorient themselves to an economy where learning itself will be the main currency, not degrees or grades.

There is plenty of work to be done, but DeRocco said that “now there is broad-based support to ensure pathways are being built across all sectors” which may open up more options to employers and job seekers alike.

A 360-Degree View of the Patient
AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon (left) hosts Robin Wiener, Jennifer Covich Bordenick, and Susan Turney (from left to right) in the Luminary Panel on Tuesday. “Let’s not forget to put the patient in the center” of care, Turney said.

AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon (left) hosts Robin Wiener, Jennifer Covich Bordenick, and Susan Turney (from left to right) in the Luminary Panel on Tuesday. “Let’s not forget to put the patient in the center” of care, Turney said.

Putting the patient first was one of the themes that emerged from the Luminary Panel, a collection of healthcare leaders in discussion with AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon. eHealth Initiative CEO Jennifer Covich Bordenick said that her experience having surgery this summer left her with several insights. One, she said, is that “the amount of waiting” patients typically do is “a waste for patients, research, and providers” in terms of missed opportunities for patient outreach and education. “We have a huge resource of people sitting in plastic chairs reading old Sports Illustrateds,” she said.

Robin Wiener, president and founding partner of digital health company Get Real Health, said there are still gaps in data between the electronic health record and the home and community where much care is provided. “We really need to look at combining what’s going on at home with clinical to get a 360-degree view of the patient,” she said. “We need to be able to pull information from outside clinicians together as well. They’re seeing one little piece of you; we need to get the whole picture.”

Susan Turney, CEO of Marshfield Clinic Health System, noted that her father died as the result of a medical error. Accordingly, she believes that “the focus is on the patient. We must try to determine how we can enrich their lives, earn their trust, have the expertise they need.” Turney added that “HIM professionals have learned how to break down silos; you should pat yourselves on the back. You are integral in… how you connect the dots across the entire system.”

A Look at AHIMA’s Strategy
“This is our future,” said Lynne Thomas Gordon of AHIMA’s new strategy.

“This is our future,” said Lynne Thomas Gordon of AHIMA’s new strategy.

Also during Tuesday’s General Session, Thomas Gordon gave attendees a preview of AHIMA’s strategy for 2017 and beyond. The strategy sets the course for AHIMA’s future priorities. “Change can be a little scary and daunting, but also it’s really exciting, and you have a partner, because AHIMA is here to help you as we collaborate together to achieve our future,” she told attendees. “What you’re going to see in our strategy is our future.”

She pointed out that while HIM will always remain true to its competencies in clinical documentation, coding, auditing, compliance, privacy, and security, “our jobs will morph into roles for applied and operational informatics, data analytics, and information governance.” As a result, Thomas Gordon said, “Our updated strategy is not focused on what we are already good at, but where we are going. For example, the healthcare industry now recognizes AHIMA as the gold standard for coding. Your Board [of Directors] wants the healthcare industry now to recognize us as the gold standard for future roles outlined in our strategy.”

More information about AHIMA’s strategy is available at www.ahima.org/mission.

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