By Lesley Kadlec, MA, RHIA, CHDA
As the saying goes, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel—which is one reason a diverse group of current and future advocacy volunteers gathered to share their strategies at an exclusive advocacy roundtable event at the 2019 AHIMA Conference.
AHIMA often shares its advocacy initiatives with members, but at the advocacy roundtable these roles were flipped. Attendees were invited to share their ideas and unique approaches with AHIMA staff in an effort to involve more health information management (HIM) professionals in a wide variety of state and national advocacy efforts.
Attendees at the conference roundtable recognized that successful advocacy is not a one-person job. Just like it “takes a village” to raise a child, according to an African proverb, it takes the entire AHIMA membership to help make a difference in HIM.
There was widespread recognition among the attendees that to advance the HIM profession, we must continually call on our members to advocate for regulations and policies that impact all of us. According to roundtable attendees, advocating for the HIM profession has resulted in an increase in their self-confidence and enabled them to perform their jobs more successfully. Additionally, many reported that they have become trusted partners with their elected officials.
The following are some of the resourceful, easy, creative, and inventive ways that attendees have found success in advocating on behalf of AHIMA and their state associations:
- Utilize social media for advocacy initiatives. It only takes a few seconds to post an article to LinkedIn, put a message on Facebook, or compose a tweet on Twitter. Did you know that you can contact your elected officials on social media? Check them out on the web or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.
- Inquire with AHIMA or your component state association (CSA) on advocacy partnerships, such as shared state “Hill Day” activities with state hospital associations. Members also can follow advocacy activities of other associations and organizations–like their state medical society—and can champion HIM initiatives together.
- Create a video that can be shared with elected officials or healthcare professionals that helps spread the word about the work of HIM. For inspiration, check out this video from the Triumph Award–winning Ohio Health Information Management Association at http://ohima.org/whatishim.
- Invite an elected official to speak at a local or state meeting or set up time for them to visit your organization so they can learn more about health information management and HIM professionals’ various roles and responsibilities.
- Send out thank-you notes to elected officials who have voted in favor of an HIM advocacy regulation or policy. If your elected official voted no on an issue important to HIM, reach out and ask them about the rationale for their vote. Let your voice be heard!
- Find ways to build a strong relationship with elected officials. Attend AHIMA’s “Advocacy Summit” events and share information about HIM.
- Take advantage of the opportunity to attend advocacy sessions at CSA meetings and volunteer to speak on advocacy-related topics.
- Introduce yourself to your representatives and get to know them. Set up informal “coffee talks” at your state capitol and invite elected officials to casual meetings to discuss HIM, AHIMA, and state advocacy topics.
- Create a folder with your CSA information and advocacy positions to share with members who attend state Hill Day events.
In addition to the suggestions above, don’t forget to check out the AHIMA Advocacy Action Center and your CSA website to follow advocacy initiatives at the state and national level. You can also register for AHIMA’s advocacy email list to be kept informed of advocacy activities with AHIMA. If you have questions, suggestions, or need more information about AHIMA’s advocacy action items, email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AHIMA’s advocacy and public policy team works diligently to continuously monitor, respond to, and actively participate in a variety of national policy and industry initiatives that can shape and guide laws and regulations that are important to the health information management profession. We invite you to join us as we champion our profession through effective and engaged advocacy.