“Barefoot and Determined,” HIM Must Tackle Patient Engagement Issues

The power of personal health stories—whether delivered through impersonal health data or through music, paintings, and old-fashioned storytelling—is empowering patients like never before. That message came through loud and clear during a Sept. 17 presentation by Vera Rulon, MS, RHIT, FAHIMA, and Regina Holliday. The two spoke about “Improving Health Information Quality Through Patient Empowerment” at AHIMA’s Health Information Integrity Summit in Alexandria, VA.

Rulon, the director of strategic communications at Pfizer, and Holliday, a patient advocate and artist with the Society for Participatory Medicine, delivered an emotional session combining their own unique backgrounds and patient stories—that is, their own families’ encounters with healthcare.

Regina Holliday (right) presents her patient advocate-inspired artwork to AHIMA's Meryl Bloomrosen (center). Holliday co-presented at the summit with Vera Rulon (left).

Regina Holliday (right) presents her patient advocate-inspired artwork to AHIMA’s Meryl Bloomrosen (center). Holliday co-presented at the summit with Vera Rulon (left).

While Rulon’s professional experience is in HIM and Holliday’s is in the arts, both share a passion for patient advocacy in the digital age. The pair shared statistics about digital technology use for consumer health and touted programs such as Medicare’s Blue Button and the Open Notes Project.Holliday and Rulon were most interested in starting a conversation on patient engagement and sharing ideas. To make their presentation interactive, Holliday started work on a painting representing the work HIM leaders do on a daily basis. Paintings are a signature of Holliday’s patient empowerment presentations. She and her fellow advocates wear custom made jackets displaying her paintings. Each painting tells a unique healthcare story.

Jackets feature advocacy paintings by Regina Holliday.

Jackets feature advocacy paintings by Regina Holliday.

During the discussion component of Rulon and Holliday’s presentation, audience members shared ideas for empowering patients, as well as providers, to get engaged with their health information.

Summit audience member Diann Brown Smith, MS, RHIA, CHP, FAHIMA, suggested that family members should start conversations about family health histories, though she acknowledged that waiting until someone has a health crisis isn’t the right time to do so.

“AHIMA should play a role in informing the public about the role of family history. People look to you as [the] ‘healthcare person’ when you have reunions,” Smith said, to laughter of agreement from the audience. “Start capturing that data so we can use it for that healthcare.”

Holliday presented her finished painting to Meryl Bloomrosen, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA, AHIMA’s vice president of thought leadership, practice excellence, and public policy, calling the piece of art “The Standard Bearers.”

Artwork “The Standard Bearers” was presented to AHIMA at the summit.

“The Standard Bearers” by Regina Holliday

The painting depicts three barefoot women, which Holliday says represent all the strong, hardworking patient advocates working in HIM. Holliday explained that she has been to a lot of healthcare conferences this week, and everywhere she goes, women tell her how much their feet hurt.

“I dare you to take off your shoes and become advocates,” Holliday told the summit attendees during the luncheon session.

And during the closing session of the summit, the panelists did just that. In their session “Classifications and Terminologies: Working Together to Strengthen Health Information Integrity” each presenter delivered their remarks barefoot. They included: Kathy Giannangelo, MA, RHIA, CCS, CPHIMS, FAHIMA, with Kathy Giannangelo Consulting; Deborah Kohn, MPH, RHIA, CPHIMS, FACHE, FHIMSS, with Dak Systems Consulting; Rita Scichilone, MHSA, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, with AHIMA; and Mary Stanfill, MBI, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, FAHIMA, with UASI.



Follow the Journal‘s coverage for news and insights from AHIMA’s Health Information Integrity Summit taking place September 16-17 in Alexandria, VA. To explore more, click here.


  1. It was a pleasure speaking with Regina at the Summit. I especially enjoyed the interactive conversation we had at the end of our presentation. Regina’s painting was an excellent depiction of what HIM professionals can do. She inspired all of us to “take off our shoes” and advocate as we are, not how we think we should be!

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  2. Thank you Vera Rulon and Regina Holliday for this inspiring and soulful presentation. You not only teach us the true meaning of data integrity, but what our true role and purpose should be — engaging the patient and advocating for the patient and for one another. The HIM profession is on the precipice of undergoing culture change. Kudos and thanks again!

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  3. This peice makes me feel like even the very important people are awed by art and that music can very well have the same touch in the world. Congradulations on the wonderful day that took place. Coming together and seeing each other’s stuggles in a light of empowerment is so special and unique. I hope for more of this on a daily basis!!

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  4. Thank you Candice, I completely agree!
    And know, that I am so supportive of the arts and music as a vehicle to improve healthcare. Think outside the box! Go barefoot!


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