Honoring Your HIM Super Powers

This monthly blog highlights and discuss emerging trends and challenges related to healthcare data and its ever changing life cycle. This post is a special extra feature on AHIMA’s Grace Award.

By Annessa Kirby

It’s not often that we in the health information management (HIM) industry take the time to pat ourselves on the back or share our accomplishments publicly. Perhaps it’s because we’re so busy, or afraid it will be seen as show-boating. Or perhaps it’s because you don’t realize that the little things you do every day make a significant difference in other’s lives. HIM professionals are worthy of recognition for all that they do.

Each year AHIMA has the distinct pleasure of honoring a healthcare delivery organization that goes above and beyond for their patients and their families. Healthcare organizations like the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics who said upon winning, “The ultimate winners here are our patients and medical staff who are assured that their information is secure, accurate, and available when and where they need it.” These winning organizations have proven their humility and undoubted faithfulness to putting the patient first.

The 2016 award recipient Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC) referenced their HIM professionals as the “interpreter” between clinicians and data analysts. And 2013 honoree Truman Medical Centers (TMC) believes that the way to a healthy community begins with supporting health information and considers their HIM professionals as “strategic corporate assets.” Whether you call your HIM professionals analysts, interpreters, coders, strategists, corporate assets, or something else, they all ultimately enhance patient care.

I had the pleasure of learning more from Seth Katz MPH, RHIA, associate administrator of information management at TMC. His inspiration to apply for the award was primarily to showcase accomplishments. “It was all about promoting the hard work we’d done over the previous years and celebrating how far the department had come,” Katz said. “It was a chance to compare ourselves to the best HIM departments in the country and it was the opportunity to staff to feel recognized for all they had accomplished.”

His advice for potential applicants? “Number one is do it!

“I think people are scared to apply either because they think they won’t win or because they don’t feel they’ve done enough, but you have nothing to lose,” he added. “Sometimes I worry that HIM professionals don’t do enough to beat our chests about the great things we’ve done and this is an opportunity where, in your own words, you get to toot your own horn and promote your team and department.”

We have heard from past applicants that narrowing down the information can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Katz’ has a few tips for completing the application based on his own experience. “We copied all the questions to a Word document and filled them out regardless of any word count limit just so we could get all our ideas down on paper. Then a smaller team of the HIM managers worked to whittle down the responses. I think that if you look at the questionnaire as a whole it can feel overwhelming, but once you start doing it, you’ll see it’s very straightforward and it can be fun as you work to summarize all your accomplishments.”

Of course, the most important thing we discussed was how this award has affected TMC’s business and work. “Truman is very proud of our 2013 Grace Award. The award sits in our executive conference room and whenever someone from Truman presents at any conference, we, like most organizations, have a slide where we highlight the top awards we’ve received. Truman only promotes six awards and one of those is the Grace Award (the others include… our HIMSS Davies award). We still have the posters up from our win and we got every staff member a t-shirt celebrating our win. It’s one of the most cherished accomplishments and it was an opportunity for the front line staff to be celebrated for all the hard work they do,” says Katz.

I hope that all the HIM professionals out there see that they are worthy of recognition, and I encourage you to apply for AHIMA’s Grace Award. AHIMA is currently looking for applicants to fill the sixth slot for our Grace Award honor roll.

Eighty-nine years ago our founder Grace Whiting Myers sought to improve health record quality. Her legacy is apparent in all of our previous Grace Award recipients and honorable mentions.

This year’s winner will be announced at the 89th AHIMA Convention and Exhibit, October 7‒11, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA.

All submissions are due by Friday June 2 at 11:59 p.m. CT.

Submit your nomination today at www.ahima.org/grace.

Join the conversation on Twitter. What is your #HIM #SuperPower? Apply now to #LeadWithGrace and #BeNumberSix this year.


Annessa Kirby (annessa.kirby@ahima.org) is manager, practice councils at the American Health Information Management Association.

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