AHIMA19 Concludes with a Focus on Building Toward the Future

AHIMA19 Concludes with a Focus on Building Toward the Future

By Paula Mauro


The final day of the AHIMA19: Health Data and Information Conference in Chicago, IL started early for a group of interested members who had RSVPed to an informal breakfast at AHIMA’s offices just a few miles from the McCormick Place Convention Center. The morning was a chance to see behind the scenes of how AHIMA’s annual event is planned and executed and, more importantly, to engage in conversation with AHIMA staff and AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris about AHIMA’s current projects in the industry and other topics on members’ minds.


Back at the Convention Center, the General Session opened in the early afternoon with incoming President/Chair-elect Ginna Evans, MBA, RHIA, CPC, CRC, FAHIMA, in her first address to AHIMA members. Evans talked about technology and healthcare and leveled with attendees about the realities they need to prepared for.

“Change is scary. Disruption is scary. Being left behind is even scarier,” said Evans. Two of the keys to not being left behind and pushing the work of health information professionals, she said, are the ability to think creatively and inventively. “Creativity and innovation,” said Evans, “are still places where humans have an edge over machines.”

Before concluding her address, Evans reminded the audience, “Each of you is a valued part of our Team AHIMA. Connection and hearing from members are very important to me and rest of the AHIMA Board.”

The final speaker of AHIMA19 was journalist John Quiñones, host of the hidden-camera TV series “What Would You Do?” On the show, actors portray individuals in public spaces going through difficult experiences such as harassment, ridicule, or dealing with poverty to see whether the people around them will get involved and help in some way—or walk away.

Quiñones’s message to attendees, many of whom are in an industry guided by protections and policies for the public good, was about “sounding the alarm, lending a helping hand, and not just going on your merry way” when faced with someone in trouble.

Much of Quiñones’s talk recounted the road he took from an economically disadvantaged childhood in a rough San Antonio, TX, neighborhood, to national broadcast journalist. He decided in high school to pursue a career in journalism, a career goal that forced him to deal with stereotypes from others about what he could do and his own desire to alter his Hispanic accent to sound more like his reporter heroes on TV.

Once he overcame those challenges, he started thinking about what kind of journalist he wanted to be.

Somewhat early in Quiñones’s career, he worked for Peter Jennings—known to much of America as the anchor of ABC World News Tonight from the early 1980s through 2005. In one instance, Quiñones was disappointed because he’d lost an important interview with a world leader. Jennings said something that Quiñones has never forgotten, and in his talk at AHIMA19 served as a takeaway for attendees as they left for their various roles in serving patients.

“Don’t worry about speaking to the movers and shakers of the world,” Jennings advised Quiñones. “Talk to the moved and the shaken instead.”

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