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.
Chris Apgar, CISSP, CCISO, passed away unexpectedly on December 11, 2021. Spotlight information was provided by Chris’ wife and business partner Julia Huddleston, as well as nominating committee members Aurae Beidler and Dana Brown.
What motivated you to nominate Chris for the Influencer Award?
Aurae Beidler: Chris’ passing was one of the biggest shocks in our health information professional community. We felt by nominating Chris for this award, we could honor his commitment to both the profession and the next generations of health information professionals.
What do you think this Triumph Award would mean to Chris?
Julia Huddleston: Chris would be very happy and more than a little proud to be honored with the Influencer Award. His goal was to help people understand the value of privacy and security as related to how we treat health information. This award speaks to his success in doing so.
How did Chris get his start in the world of health information?
JH: Chris used to tell this story: A few months after he finished a stint as the Y2K manager for Oregon’s largest county, he got a call from his supervisor who said he had recommended Chris to a large health plan as its first HIPAA Privacy Officer. Chris’ question was “What’s HIPAA?” The former boss’ answer was “you’ll find out.” That was the beginning, and he was in on the ground floor as the regulations were written.
How long was Chris an active member of AHIMA?
AB: Chris was an active member of AHIMA and OrHIMA for over 10 years, beginning in 2011. He was critical to our advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels. He was able to establish a great partnership with the Oregon Medical Association on many lobby efforts and help host a Hill Day as well.
What are the qualities that made Chris an influential leader within the field?
Dana Brown: Chris was always available to lend a hand and give advice; he had years of experience and was very in tune with happenings in the industry. When speaking with Chris, one felt confident in his advice—he always had credible references and great insight. He was at the top of his game.
What did Chris enjoy about health information?
DB: I think Chris really enjoyed doing the right thing by our patients—his specialty was privacy and security. I believe he only wanted the best practices for all patients, and this entailed interpreting guidelines and following the laws accordingly.
JH: Chris was a privacy “true believer” and an early adopter of the now common principle that there’s no privacy without security. He felt strongly that we all have the right to have our private information stay private.
What advice do you think Chris would give to young professionals interested in pursuing health information?
DB: Go for it! HI is a great career that needs good people. There are lots of avenues for you to specialize in whichever direction you choose.
JH: Ditto. Also, it’s a field that will never bore you since change is a constant.
AB: Chris would, without a doubt, encourage any young professional to ask their questions and question the status quo. He would encourage them to do their own research, find the answers, and push for the truth.
Is there anything else you would like to add about Chris as an HI community member and industry influencer?
DB: Chris was an amazing man. To those that knew him personally and professionally, he is greatly missed. Chris had a kindness about him and was an expert in his field who shared his knowledge freely. Chris contributed in so many big and little ways. His impact is huge, and he is missed.