AHIMA23 grounded us in the importance of our work. Jennifer Mueller, our president and chair, spoke to the essence of health information — it's not just data, but the "soul" of a patient's story. It's a daily task for us as health information (HI) professionals to capture these stories with care and precision, fully aware that behind every data point is a person’s journey.
During the conference in Baltimore, we celebrated the achievements of our peers. AmeriHealth Caritas was honored with the Grace Award for its use of health information to drive improvements in patient care, particularly in maternal health and nutrition. Its work sets a great example for innovation and helping the community, just as the Grace Award (named after the founder of AHIMA Grace Whiting Myers) intends.
Amberwell Atchison deservedly received an honorable mention for its patient education initiatives and efforts to provide high-quality, cost-effective maternity care. These organizations are stellar examples of how health information can directly improve lives.
The commitment to social determinants of health data collection and exchange was palpable throughout the conference. Attendees left these discussions with a renewed focus on using data to guide corrective measures and support health equity, demonstrating the profession's evolving role in contemporary healthcare challenges.
In one of these sessions, Chuck Callahan from the University of Maryland Medical Center addressed the pressing issue of health disparities as exemplified by Baltimore's "Black Butterfly,” a visual representation of Baltimore’s neighborhood maps with two low-income majority Black neighborhoods divided in the middle by wealthy — and majority White —neighborhoods. He discussed how systemic racism has led to significant health inequities and highlighted how it can impact health outcomes. Similar tales echo in many cities, and our field has a role to play there. It was a call to action for HI professionals to leverage their skills for broader societal benefits.
Furthermore, the conference provided a platform to discuss the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). Experts shared insights into the ethical deployment of AI across various facets of healthcare, from clinical decision-making to administrative efficiency and diagnostic accuracy. These conversations reinforced the importance of responsible AI use and the necessity for cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive health information, a topic increasingly important in our digital age.
The focus on actionable insights over theoretical knowledge meant that attendees left with more than just information — they left with strategies and tools to implement in their organizations, driving meaningful improvements in community health.
AHIMA23 was abuzz with the energy of enthusiastic newcomers to seasoned experts, all renewing their focus around improving and humanizing health data.
The collective spirit of our profession was clear: we are ready and equipped to drive positive change. From the practical workshops to the strategic discussions, insights, and connections, AHIMA23 will continue to inspire and guide our work, reminding us of the HI field's dedication to affecting change.
Stephanie Kowalski is chief marketing officer for AHIMA.