Although much has changed since the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) first formed 90 years ago, there remains one constant: the importance of the relationship between the patient and their health care provider. A key component to this relationship is the reliability of the patient’s health information, helping the patient and provider make informed decisions about the patient’s care.
From their beginning, health information management (HIM) professionals have worked to improve health record quality, leading the management of health data and medical records so information is secure, accurate and available where and when it is needed. While these records were once only hand-written notes, today’s health information comes from multiple sources and results in vast amounts of data, making it an important and exciting time to be in the profession.
Today, with every health care experience, more and different types of data are produced. Those data must be converted into usable information that remains private yet accessible to all who need it. Just like in the 1930s, the special and unique skillset of the HIM professional has a major effect on the consumer and the health care system. It is HIM that bridges the gap between providers, patients and payers. It is HIM that maintains the confidentiality of the information. And it is HIM that has transitioned principles for how information was managed in paper records to how it is now managed in the multifaceted and electronic data world of today. As this transition continues, the skills needed by HIM professionals must continue to meet the demands of the evolving health care community.
The future-focused health care environment
HIM Reimagined (HIMR) is an AHIMA Leadership initiative aimed at providing a framework to transform HIM and position professionals for the future. It offers long-term strategies to ensure the profession is equipped both academically and professionally to advance individuals and HIM to increased levels of relevance while keeping pace with changes in the industry.
The HIMR program and its accompanying white paper is a future-focused analysis of the changing health care environment. For example, preventative, predictive, participatory and personalized approaches to medicine, increased automation and aging of the population will all have a significant impact on both consumers and HIM operations and what employers will require of HIM professionals in the future.
Assuring the reliability of health information in support of patients and providers is so vitally important that credentialed HIM practitioners are required to keep their knowledge and skills current through mandatory continuing education. A minimum of 20 continuing education units (CEUs) are required every two years for any HIM credential-holder. Qualified CEU activities include formal college-credit classes, conferences, webinars, self-assessments and authorship, among others. It’s also important that students and practitioners use the tools available to them to keep up with the trends and needs of the industry.
By staying abreast of trends and emerging roles in the industry through continuing education, HIM professionals are poised to meet the demands of the ever-evolving health care field.
Wylecia Wiggs Harris, Ph.D., CAE, CEO, American Health Information Management Association, [email protected]