The AHIMA Triumph Awards are national awards designed to recognize people who have made a difference in the health information (HI) profession. The awards honor leaders in the HI ﬁeld, reward contributions that build our knowledge base, recognize excellence in preparing future HI professionals, and encourage fresh talent and new leadership.
AHIMA bestowed four Triumph Awards this year: the Distinguished Member Award, the Influencer Award, the Educator Award, and the Student Award. The Journal of AHIMA caught up with each recipient or the people who nominated them to learn more about their careers.
Diann H. Smith, MS, RHIA, CHP, FAHIMA, has dedicated more than 40 years to the health information profession. She currently serves as the vice president of health information management services and clinical documentation integrity at Texas Health Resources in Arlington, Texas. Diann is a longtime AHIMA volunteer at the local, state, and national levels, and is also a fellow with the American Health Information Management Association.
Can you share what this Triumph Award means to you?
There are many deserving individuals, and receiving the highest honor from my peers is quite humbling. This is an acknowledgment from my peers of the impact I’ve had on others and the profession. It’s rather difficult to find the right words to reflect my appreciation for this recognition.
How did you get your start in the world of health information?
From the beginning of my career, I was fortunate to have support, encouragement, and mentorship from many HI professionals. I am forever grateful to my first director for hiring me as department secretary while I was still a full-time health information technology student. She looked past my lack of experience and saw my potential. The rest is history.
As a respected coach and mentor within the HI field, what do you consider to be the essential qualities of a leader?
Having a vision, courage to acknowledge mistakes, intelligence and focus, and the passion to teach and mentor are what I consider to be the essential qualities of a great leader. The ability to inspire others and being the cheerleader others need to keep going when faced with challenges are also essential.
What gets you most excited about the work you are currently doing?
Leveraging data analytics, innovation, and technology to advance the reliability of outcomes. As new healthcare models are developed, it’s exciting to see HI professionals being tapped to help design and plan the future. We are all being challenged to think bigger and transform the work we perform daily. I am excited because the profession continues to evolve as the healthcare industry transforms.
How long have you been an active member of AHIMA, and what difference has this community made in your career?
I’ve been an active member since the early ’80s, and I’m proud to say I’ve served as a volunteer the entire time. The AHIMA community has been vital in the success I’ve experienced throughout my career, with volunteering being the most impactful aspect. As I served others, I was in a position of learning and growing my own skill sets, and being exposed to different thought leaders naturally helped me grow as a professional.
What do you find to be most enriching about being a member of the HI community?
Networking and developing lifelong friendships across the nation and internationally has been very rewarding. Because of these connections, I have other experts I can call to provide additional insight whenever I have a tough problem. It helps to know you aren’t the only one facing a tough challenge, and we learn from each other.
What do you consider to be the most exciting development currently happening in the HI field?
As healthcare evolves, care is being delivered in many different channels. We are no longer delivering care in a brick and mortar, but beyond. We as HI professionals have the challenge of ensuring no matter where care in being delivered, it is a part of the consumer’s record. As we know, interoperability is vital to the consumer’s well-being. A clinician must have access to a holistic view of the patient to provide care. What is most exciting is how we take all this data across the continuum of care are make it meaningful.
How do you see the industry continuing to evolve over the next few years?
I see the industry transitioning from machine learning to artificial intelligence as the standard for workflow automation. Many roles in HI will transform into working exceptions, which require a higher-skilled professional with increased critical thinking skills. Interoperability will continue to be a high priority as consumers become more educated about their health data with the use of applications.
What would be your advice to young professionals interested in pursuing health information?
My advice to a young professional or anyone new to the HI profession is to get involved as a volunteer and embrace lifelong learning. The benefits are many because you are exposed to emerging industry trends and thought leaders, and you improve your own skills as you serve others.