This web-exclusive Journal column highlights public policy initiatives at the federal- and state-level that impact the HIM profession, including news on AHIMA’s national and affiliated state advocacy initiatives, Congressional updates, news from federal regulatory agencies, public policy updates from state legislatures, and AHIMA’s public policy initiatives with other organizations.
By Lesley Kadlec MA RHIA CHDA
Have you ever wondered how advocacy works? What does it take to be a champion for the health information management (HIM) profession? It all starts with actively supporting something that is important to you—both professionally and personally.
A diverse group of nearly 200 AHIMA members convened on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC last month for AHIMA’s 2019 Advocacy Summit to demonstrate and further their commitment to being advocacy champions for HIM.
This year’s summit kicked off the morning of Monday, March 25th with a day-long agenda filled with captivating speakers. Featured speakers during the Summit included Dr. Andrew Gettinger, chief clinical officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC); Timothy Noonan, acting deputy director, health information privacy at the Office for Civil Rights (OCR); and Donna Pickett, medical systems administrator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year’s attendees also heard several presentations from members of AHIMA’s leadership and executive team.
The summit closed out the following day after attendees visited the Capitol to meet with their congressional representatives to discuss four critical issues that have a serious impact on HIM professionals across the country:
- Align HIPAA ‘Right of Access’ with ONC Health IT Certification Functionality
- Extending the HIPAA Individual Right of Access to Non-Covered Entities (NCEs)
- Encourage Note Sharing with Patients in Real Time
- Patient Matching (omit language in appropriations legislation that prohibits HHS use of funds toward developing a unique health identifier)
A total of 180 AHIMA members completed 197 visits to congressional leaders in both the US Senate and the US House of Representatives. These in-person meetings with members of Congress are invaluable for building name and brand recognition for AHIMA and its members with the federal government. These meetings also give HIM professionals a chance to develop a relationship with elected officials and their staff.
Of course, advocacy never stops—even after attendees return home. The contacts made during the summit are only the first step in beginning an ongoing dialog about the issues that HIM professionals face personally and professionally. Continued advocacy is always needed in keeping these important issues at the forefront.
Unable to make it to the summit this year? Additional opportunities for members are available to participate in advocacy-related events. HIM professionals interested in participating are encouraged to register for a replay of the Virtual Advocacy Summit to learn more about how they can get involved and have their voices heard.
In addition, AHIMA’s Advocacy Action Center is available year-round for HIM professionals to assist them in contacting congressional offices to advocate on multiple issues that are important to the HIM profession.
Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact the advocacy team at Advocacy@ahima.org.