Leaders from AHIMA component state associations (CSAs) around the country gathered for the 2020 Leadership Symposium, held virtually on July 10 and 11. A variety of streamed events and pre-recorded sessions were available to attendees to assist them in their roles in state leadership.
The session entitled “State Advocacy: Leadership as an Influence process” featured an interview with Marjorie Rosen, RHIT, MBA-MDR, director of healthcare programs at Bryan University in Tempe, AZ. Rosen also serves as state advocacy leader for the Arizona Health Information Management Association and has championed advocacy within her state association. She has been involved in healthcare for over twenty years on both the clinical and executive sides. In the interview, Rosen shared a wealth of information to assist state leaders in developing and executing a strong state advocacy program. She explained that she was inspired to get involved with advocacy out of a desire to understand the mechanics of public policy work and to understand how individuals can have their voices heard by policy makers to effect change.
According to Rosen, it is important for health information professionals to share their knowledge with elected officials and explain our mission in order to help bring changes in laws and regulations that focus on the bigger picture of improving health outcomes and impacting patients’ lives through best practices in management of health information.
One of her advocacy team’s great successes was working with the governor of their state to get a law changed. Thanks to their efforts, state law now requires hospitals that close in their state to notify patients and give them 30 days to obtain their health records. Oversharing information is one way to help champion advocacy, according to Rosen. She emphasized that it is critical to be willing to share information often. She regularly sends out alerts to her CSA members to help them understand how a particular issue or proposed rule impacts their members.
Rosen also networks at other organizations’ meetings to support efforts to grow her state advocacy program. She attends a variety of events where she can meet others who are involved in advocacy. This helps her learn the names of advocacy leaders from other healthcare associations that help her stay on top of what’s happening in other parts of the health information industry as well as the larger healthcare ecosystem.
Rosen recommended that health information professionals review their state government websites to understand the issues that state policymakers are involved with and to familiarize themselves with where they stand on specific issues.
Rosen says the pandemic has changed the way that health information professionals do their work. It is no longer possible or feasible knock on someone’s door for a face-to-face conversation. However, more leaders are available by email or conference call than ever before—which in many ways makes it easier to do business and network. Rosen recommended that health information professionals collaborate often and share their knowledge by continuing to be a champion for advocacy, working to ultimately improve the quality of healthcare by connecting people with the public policymakers who can bring about positive change.
Lesley Kadlec (Lesley.Kadlec@ahima.org) is director, policy and state advocacy engagement at AHIMA.