Top Takeaways from the 2017 AHIMA Convention

Whether you attended AHIMA’s 2017 Convention and Exhibit in person or perused updates on social media or the Journal website, chances are that you probably missed something—a captivating speaker, a General Session or two, or even the balmy temperatures. No worries, the Journal has you covered. Read on to find out more about the week’s most notable moments.

International Focus Renewed

As AHIMA expands its presence overseas with the AHIMA World Congress, it also expanded its convention offerings for an increasingly international crowd. In Los Angeles, the convention included an entire international track of educational sessions in anticipation of attendees from Nigeria, Australia, Qatar, Germany, India, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Philippines, Thailand, Canada, Macedonia, and Iran. Whereas the 2016 convention featured only one day of international sessions, this year’s convention had sessions on international topics on all three days.

AHIMA also debuted an International Lounge this year, adjacent to the AHIMA booth, which featured a small presentation hall of its own, intended for smaller, informal audiences.

AHIMA’s Melanie Endicott, MBA/HCM, RHIA, CHDA, CDIP, CCS, CCS-P, FAHIMA, senior director of HIM practice excellence, has been helping to teach coding and clinical documentation improvement for the AWC in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Philippines, and in Dubai, and organized a lot of the international events at convention this year. She helped narrow down 40 abstracts submitted for this track, which is aimed at helping attendees learn more about how HIM is practiced around the world. Endicott explained that revenue cycle management and cybersecurity are topics of great interest internationally and domestically, which was reflected in this year’s programming.

Buzzed About Session

Prior to convention, one of the sessions that got the most pre-convention press was one given by Sally Lucci, RHIA, CCA, called “HIM Response to an Active Shooter Incident.” With the convention taking place less than two weeks after this country’s most deadly mass shooting incident in Las Vegas, the responsibility of developing a provider response to such an incident no doubt weighed heavily on the minds of many convention attendees.

Lucci’s presentation drew on her experience with an active shooter incident when she was the director of HIM at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“As HIM professionals, we must be prepared to respond to a rapidly evolving situation even when we, our staff, and peers may be emotionally traumatized. In the days following an incident, there will be requests for patient health records from law enforcement and media, and HIM professionals will need to be prepared to handle these requests while remaining compliant with privacy rules,” Lucci said.

Information Governance Gets a Boost

AHIMA was able to share the news at convention this year that IGHealthRate™, the industry’s only purpose-built assessment and measurement platform for information governance (IG) adoption and maturity, will now be available free of cost thanks to an expanded partnership and co-branding with Immersive. IGHealthRate allows organizations to self-assess, measure, and advance their IG capabilities and maturity.

In a panel discussion on IG on the Monday of convention, HIM professionals that have implemented IG programs in their organizations were able to shed some light on this challenging endeavor. They shared lessons learned and tips for success, including the importance of building a strong and dedicated committee, clearly defining staff roles and responsibilities, engaging executive sponsors and other organization leaders, providing clear and consistent communication, setting achievable goals, celebrating successes, and utilizing IGHealthRate to set their baseline for IG.

AHIMA was also able to share the results of a new IG survey at convention. According to the survey, which polled 1,500 healthcare professionals, 53 percent of respondents said they have IG practices in place or recognize the need for IG. Additionally, 14 percent of respondents have initiated an organization-wide IG program, and 18 percent have IG-related projects underway.

“We are thrilled that 85 percent of respondents are familiar with IG and 74 percent are familiar with AHIMA’s definition of IG. Our analysis shows that we have made progress in this arena and will continue to offer services for even more growth,” said AHIMA’s Interim CEO Pamela Lane, MS, RHIA.

Washington on the West Coast

National HIT Coordinator Donald Rucker identifies MACRA and the 21st Century Cures Act as laws that have an impact on his work.

Health information management (HIM) professionals, likely for the first time, got to hear from the person in Washington, DC, with the most influence in health IT—Donald Rucker, MD, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. Rucker joked that his job title is “one of the weirdest in Washington—somewhere between party planner and regulator.”

As the keynote speaker of the convention’s opening day general session, Rucker addressed topics of urgent concern to HIM—including cybersecurity and interoperability.

Cybersecurity is a “massive issue” according to Rucker, who noted that ONC is working to incorporate best practices for security into its health IT certification program—but some measure of responsibility belongs to patients as well, he said. “When patients get their data electronically, it is their data, and it is their responsibility to protect it,” he said. “I believe the practical solution is a marketplace of companies providing help for patients [to minimize security risks].”

For more reporting from AHIMA’s 2017 Convention, visit the Journal website’s Event Coverage page here.
Mary Butler is the associate editor at The Journal of AHIMA.

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