Panel Offers Options to Create Your Future

Information governance (IG) and informatics are two areas of growth and opportunity for health information management (HIM) professionals. But what are the next steps for individuals and the profession in taking advantage of those opportunities? Industry experts explored this question during the “Create Your Future” panel in Tuesday’s General Session.

New Insights, Developments for IG

Kathy Downing, MA, RHIA, CHPS, PMP, senior director, information governance at AHIMA, presented an update on the association’s IG activities. “We need to advance our responsibilities beyond HIM,” she said. “We owe it as citizens of the healthcare ecosystem to maximize the value of information for our patients, our physicians, our staff, and our organizations.” IG can help with all those areas, she said.

Downing announced that IGHealthRate™, the industry’s only purpose-built assessment and measurement platform for IG adoption and maturity, will be made available to qualified organizations free of charge, thanks to a brand partnership with Immersive. AHIMA’s Information Governance Adoption Model (IGAM) framework is the authoritative content for IGHealthRate. In 2018, AHIMA will launch its Standards for IG in Healthcare to supplement the IGAM and expand on competency areas and maturity markers. An Approved IG Consultant training program also will begin next year, she said.

Downing also discussed the results of a new AHIMA survey of the industry on IG adoption and practices. The survey of more than 1,500 healthcare professionals nationwide indicated that awareness and use of IG practices is growing, with 53 percent of respondents saying they have IG practices in place or recognize the need for IG.

Finding the “In” in Informatics

Shelly Foster-Ford, RHIA, vice president of HIM operations at Parallon Business Solutions, discussed opportunities for HIM professionals in health informatics. “We have an opportunity to impact patient outcomes in ways we can only just begin to imagine,” she said. Foster-Ford identified actions HIM professionals can take to get more involved with informatics:

  • Be confident; you have valuable knowledge and experience that is important to health informatics initiatives
  • Strongly consider furthering your education and knowledge with certification and advanced degrees
  • Talk to your employer about your interest, sharing your knowledge and excitement for the future and the opportunity HIM has to further the high quality of healthcare data

Gopathy Purushothaman, PhD, senior data scientist at Parallon Business Processing Group, described opportunities for HIM in data science, which mines data and applies the scientific method to solve problems. He cited a McKinsey study that found if US healthcare were to use Big Data creatively and effectively to drive efficiency and quality, the sector could create more than $300 billion in value every year. “HIM professionals have a major role to play in bridging this gap,” Purushothaman said. “We need your expertise in deploying models efficiently, assessing performance, and being involved with continuous improvement.”

AHIMA president/chair-elect Diann Smith tells the audience during her General Session Incoming President Address: “I encourage each of you to get actively involved… Be innovative, be creative, and be bold.”

Evolving for the Future

Ryan Sandefer, PhD, chair and assistant professor at the College of St. Scholastica, summarized recommendations made in AHIMA’s “HIM Reimagined” white paper, which envisions how HIM knowledge, skills, and competencies can be updated to prepare the profession for the future. The recommendations include increasing AHIMA members’ level of education, supporting research, increasing specialization, and aligning credentials with the changes in the environment. “I’m very excited about the future of HIM,” Sandefer said. “We need to acknowledge that we have the skills, abilities, and potential to meet the future demands of HIM.”

Lieber: ‘We’ve Done the Easy Stuff’

Also on Tuesday, AHIMA interim CEO Pamela Lane, MS, RHIA, moderated a discussion with Charles Jaffe, MD, PhD, CEO of Health Level Seven, and Steve Lieber, president and CEO emeritus of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Lane asked the panelists what they considered to be the biggest trends in healthcare currently. Lieber said that predictive and personalized medicine are the key. “We’ve seen a terrific change over the last 15 years,” Lieber said. Data needs to get to physicians in a timely manner and it needs to be captured, correct, and easy to read. “The next 15 years [in healthcare] are going to be harder—we’ve done the easy stuff,” he said.

Jaffe pointed out that “we have an opportunity to be more efficient in what we do.” In the future doctors will be making decisions based not on five pieces of information, but 500 pieces, and new technology will continue to emerge, he said.

Lane asked where the HIM profession will fit into the technology world of the future. “Part of the responsibility of HIM will be to keep abreast of rapidly advancing technology; if the process is to move ahead, it will rest on the shoulders of professionals like yourselves,” Jaffe said.

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