By Lesley Kadlec, MA, RHIA, CHDA, and Anisa Tootla

Most healthcare professionals readily understand the benefits of serving consumers who are engaged in their healthcare.

Activated consumers can lead to higher patient satisfaction, a stronger patient-provider relationship, and support of better health outcomes. The role of health information professionals is to leverage our information management expertise to help consumers make informed decisions based on data that is complete, accessible, accurate, and secure.

AHIMA’s Mission—“Empowering people to impact health”—is rooted in the belief that better outcomes are possible when we work together toward achieving our common goals.

Recently, AHIMA and the AHIMA Foundation have worked to develop new ways to help consumers be their own best advocates for care—through public policy proposals and direct outreach.

Public Policy

Public policy is an important tool to help AHIMA members inform public policy discussions on consumer engagement.

This summer, AHIMA convened a public policy work group to help the organization explore key considerations that should be addressed by policymakers to enhance consumer engagement in healthcare.

The result of this effort is a new policy statement approved by the AHIMA Board of Directors last month. The statement outlines recommendations for policymakers to address healthcare consumer engagement.

Moving forward with these recommendations would result in a number of benefits for every healthcare consumer, including:

  • Increased empowerment of individuals and their caregivers in managing and understanding their health and healthcare;
  • Enhanced communication and shared decision-making between patients and clinicians;
  • Improved adherence to treatment plans, resulting in improved patient outcomes;
  • Reduction in duplicative testing and diagnostic procedures;
  • Improved accuracy and quality of health information, which may reduce risks to patient safety; and
  • Lower overall healthcare costs for patients.1,2

Sound public policy helps ensure basic standards, data protections, and access are the foundation of effective consumer engagement in healthcare. Concurrently, it is important that consumers feel confident and assured when using and understanding their own health information or that of a loved one.

‘Health Literacy for Health Equity’ Initiative

Last month, the AHIMA Foundation, the 501(c)3 charitable affiliate of AHIMA, launched Health Literacy for Health Equity, a multi-year initiative designed to nurture a solutions-based, resource-dense hub for consumers, caregivers, advocates, and healthcare and community stakeholders invested in health literacy, access, and equity.

Research shows that low health literacy is correlated with increased emergency room visits, hospital stays, and higher mortality rates. These issues most adversely impact underserved communities, revealing low health literacy as a contributor to health inequities in America.

The centerpiece of the initiative is the Better Health is In Your Hands campaign, the main hub of which is a consumer-centered microsite.

The goal of the campaign is to empower individuals to exercise greater control over their health information for themselves and loved ones. Check out the Foundation’s launch video to see what the campaign is about.

The Foundation also established a steering committee to help shape the organization’s health literacy initiatives.

Health literacy was the subject of the Foundation’s plenary session at the AHIMA21 Virtual Conference. Low health literacy is one of the most systemic and overlooked problems in public health. Solving it requires innovation, empathy, and collaboration. The AHIMA Foundation’s ability to build, expand, and sustain its program depends solely on the financial support we receive from donors. If you want to support the organization’s health literacy programming, please consider a donation.

Health information professionals have a critical role to play in helping shape public policy toward enhancing consumer engagement and assisting healthcare consumers in accessing, understanding, and using their health data towards further engagement and ultimately better health outcomes. As public policy discussions on consumer engagement happen and we work to provide educational resources and tools for consumers, AHIMA is excited to bring the expertise of its members to help address this critical topic.


  1. Available at:
  2. Available at:


AHIMA Consumer Engagement Public Policy Workgroup Members:

Vera Rulon


Alice Noblin


Beth Friedman


Reginald Grady


Deborah Collier


Jami Woebkenberg


Anne Tegen


AHIMA Foundation:

Anisa Tootla

Executive Director


Megan McVane

Director of Impact Programs


Matt Schlossberg

Director of Communications and Marketing

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