House of Delegates Hails ‘House of Information’

House of Delegates Hails  ‘House of Information’

By Anne Zender, MA


How can AHIMA members help support the organization’s new mission, vision, and strategy? During her address to the House of Delegates on Sunday, AHIMA president Valerie Watzlaf, PhD, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA, offered three ways to help.

Delegates can understand how they bring value and can contribute to the process.

“This house, the House of Delegates, needs to be as strong as possible, and you need need to understand how you contribute to the House of Information….how you contribute to the profession, and most importantly, how you empower people to impact health,” Watzlaf said.

Second, delegates can move forward together in a spirit of trust and constructive dialogue, she said.

“Let’s work together to make the House of Information stand firm.” Finally, delegates must “Commit. Embrace our mission, embrace the vision, embrace the strategy,” she added.

AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE, gave delegates an update on AHIMA’s transformation and newly created strategic plan. The strategic plan is the association’s future map to making its new mission and vision statements a reality. To do this, she said, AHIMA members must commit as individuals and unite as a group around a common vision of the future. Harris asked delegates to join her in executing AHIMA’s strategy and in “building the House of Information.”

“[The House of Information is] a concept I’ve been thinking about for a while, because this House has an opportunity to be incredibly special,” she said. “Each of you represents the wiring of the house. The House needs to illuminate so that we shine brightly and so that we can carry out the mission and the vision.”

Building the House of Information is most important, Harris said, because, “It’s about the people who depend on us. The lives that we change, the patients we impact, the students we enrich, the employees we help. It’s about the patients and the healthcare system that will not improve unless we are at the table. I’m determined that we are going to have a strong house of health information.”

Speaker of the House Shawn Wells, RHIT, CHDA, thanked the members of the House of Delegates for making their voices heard during the past year. “Our passion is there. I appreciate your contacting me about what you are passionate about,” Wells said. “It takes a village to really govern this profession.”

Along the lines of governing the profession, Watzlaf announced the formation of a Governance Task Force that will be reviewing AHIMA’s overall governance structure. The Task Force will offer a number of opportunities for members to offer feedback and serve as sounding boards for its findings. Wells said a revised charter would be made available for 30 days for member comment.

‘HIM Touches Everything’

Members of the House divided into groups to discuss topics such as thought leadership, professional development, and environmental scanning; serving as a health information professional champion; action items; and best practices for engagement, communication, and process.

Using the updated AHIMA strategy as a baseline, delegates were asked to take a deeper dive into priority areas of impact for the profession. They made recommendations for each impact area of the strategy (defined by AHIMA as integrity, access, and connection) and ranked them. These recommendations will help inform AHIMA’s developing thought leadership strategy.

Among the recommendations and observations were:

  • HIM touches everything.
  • Privacy and security practices: need to break down barriers between compliance and IT to arrive at better practices. Be the preferred credential for privacy and security.
  • Members must take leadership roles in their organizations, not just the HIM departments. Make sure skill sets are up to par so that they can be leaders. We need to be training people to be in the C-suites.
  • Members must learn technical languages, programs, and standards so that they can participate at the table.
  • Having a vice president of health information role should be a requirement by Joint Commission or other accreditation. Advocating for this in the states might be a foot in the door.
  • Emerging issues: Virtual healthcare/telehealth; business continuity/disaster planning; data governance is still a significant part of the work; need to be planning for cybersecurity crises as well.
  • Apps are a significant issue. HIM should be at the table with EHR vendors and app developers.
  • Diversity of settings: Ambulatory inclusion, behavioral and mental health are becoming more critical.
  • Patients need to know how they can access their data.

The delegates voted on three items, including a motion to refer a proposed bylaws amendment that would change the composition of the Nominating Committee to the Governance Task Force was approved. In addition, a bylaws amendment to require that no position on the AHIMA ballot is uncontested was approved.

A proposal to create positions for seven regional delegate leaders was not approved.

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