Incoming President/Chair Ginna Evans Ready to Continue AHIMA’s Transformation
By Marco Buscaglia
First thing’s first: it’s Ginna, “as in Gin,” says Ginna Evans, MBA, RHIA, CPC, CRC, FAHIMA, the incoming president/chair of AHIMA. “It’s short for Virginia. People have been calling me Gina and Jenna my entire life so I’m used to it. It’s Ginna, but I’ll answer to any of them.”
Evans is a native of Atlanta, the home of the 2020 AHIMA conference. She lives in Avondale Estates, a small suburb just outside the city. “I love the people, the friendliness. It’s just a wonderful community,” she says. “And I can be downtown in 15 minutes. I mean, great shopping, great restaurants—it’s all right here. I can’t wait to share Atlanta next year. It’s an amazing place.”
Evans, coding educator for the internal medicine specialties division of Emory Clinic, Emory Healthcare, in Atlanta, GA, has been an active volunteer with AHIMA and an advocate for health information management (HIM) her entire career.
“I’ve always felt like we had a strong story to tell and I’ve always enjoyed being the messenger,” says Evans, who has degrees in both psychology and health information management from Emory University and an MBA from Mercer University. “It’s a profession that has always been ripe for volunteerism, whether that’s talking to students about what we do or helping each other by sharing information.”
Evans’s volunteering spirit has made her an active, visible member of AHIMA for years, which makes her new role as incoming president/chair a logical culmination. “I’m honored to be able to celebrate, promote, and help transform the HIM profession,” she says. “AHIMA is filled with wonderful people and I’m very excited for what comes next.”
Continuing the Transformation
Evans says AHIMA’s “journey toward a strategy reset” is ongoing, and it’s a mission she feels privileged to continue. “It was time for us to make this transformational change. I really think it brings up a lot of great opportunities for us as an association as well as opportunities for our members. For me, I really hope my biggest accomplishments will be to continue to see our vision and strategy move forward,” Evans says. “Our vision is ‘a world where trusted information transforms health and healthcare by connecting people, systems, and ideas,’ so there is much—for us as an association—to do.”
And Evans says she does not take the “us” lightly.
“We also need our members’ support to help us continue our transformation,” she says. “We’re going to operationalize by enhancing our efforts in thought leadership, workforce development, industry alliances, advocacy in Washington, international efforts, and operational excellence.”
AHIMA in Plain Sight
While she admits most people haven’t given too much thought to the role of HIM in terms of their own medical care, Evans thinks healthcare’s heightened role in the public arena is leading to a better understanding of the HIM profession.
“I think the public realizes the importance of what we do—the light bulbs are starting to turn on that it’s more than just medical records. They’re taking a closer look at their bills and the statements from their insurance companies and they want to know more. They have an increased awareness of what’s happening—a look at the bigger picture—and they’re asking more questions.”
For example, a factor in the increased awareness comes from the explosion of self-monitoring wellness trackers.
“People are constantly checking their steps, tracking their calories, and tracking their sleep on an app,” she says. “They’re sharing how much water they drink each day and how often they exercise. But where’s that information going? And I don’t think people stop to think about all of the data that’s being collected. They don’t always consider who’s doing what with that data. And I think so much of this opens up opportunities for AHIMA. It’s a chance for us to be involved and drive some of this information to help people be more aware of what they’re sharing. I think the more we can educate the consumers, the more people will better understand the implications of the information they’re putting out there.”
Technology Creates Opportunities
Evans realizes that one of healthcare’s continuing challenges is finding safe, secure methods to share information with respect to the privacy of the involved patients.
“How do you get information from one provider to another if a patient gets transferred or gets referred to a provider in another facility? Is it all digital? Is there still a need for a paper trail? I think there are a lot of important issues we have to consider, but most importantly, everyone has to be open to having that conversation,” Evans says. “We can push for privacy by using technology and better data in ways that help healthcare providers build trust with their patients.”
Part of building that trust comes from an increased effort to speak the same language.
Physicians and advanced practice providers need “to have the same understanding of why their notes are important. They must understand why cutting and pasting from previous notes may not be the best practice. It may not convey what’s happening with the patient,” she says. “We have to help educate everyone to make sure they see the benefits of doing things a certain way—that some of the things they may think save them time can delay the process. The same goes for qualified healthcare providers, coders, insurance companies, and everyone else who comes in contact with the patient or information.”
Evans thinks AHIMA’s new strategy provides a number of opportunities to move the HIM profession forward—and she doesn’t think the Association has to tiptoe around that responsibility.
“We need to be the disruptor,” she says. “We need to be the ones demanding a seat at the table. When they talk about privacy and security, when they talk about leading the transformation of healthcare, we can’t sit idly by and react to what’s being said. We need to be proactive. These are important times in healthcare, and our expertise and guidance is needed. We don’t have to apologize for wanting to play a critical role—we want to be right there, involved, doing what we can to make healthcare safer, more efficient and more secure.”
And to do that, Evans is counting on AHIMA members to help move the discussion, the Association, and the profession forward.
“We need to walk side by side. We need to share our transformation stories across the United States, whether that’s through board members who go to each state and speak at meetings, or members who believe in our mission and do everything they can to make sure their work represents that mission,” Evans says. “So much of what we do has been focused on the process, and now is the time for us to engage with the human element. This is equally important.”
In closing, Evans shared a quote that hit home with her as AHIMA was developing their new mission, vision, and strategy. Leadership expert Robin Sharma said, “Leadership is not about a title or designation. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire teammates and customers.”
Evans thinks everyone can apply this to how they think about their personal and professional lives. Her hope is that each AHIMA member will think about how they can impact, influence, and inspire others to be a part of moving AHIMA forward.
“Our future is bright, but we must transform, be proactive, and move quickly,” Evans says.