Health information management workforce--when opportunities abound.
Medical informatics (Management)
Health care industry (Human resource management)
Health care industry (Information management)
|Publication:||Name: Health Information Management Journal Publisher: Health Information Management Association of Australia Ltd. Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Health Information Management Association of Australia Ltd. ISSN: 1833-3583|
|Issue:||Date: Oct, 2010 Source Volume: 39 Source Issue: 3|
|Topic:||Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 280 Personnel administration; 260 General services Computer Subject: Health care industry; Company business management; Company personnel management; Company systems management|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in
overalls and looks like work. (Thomas Edison) (1)
In the last issue of HIMJ, in her guest editorial, Kerryn Butler-Henderson outlined many of the proposed changes that the health system is likely to face in the near future. Change seems to be a constant theme that we must get used to and adapt to if we are to survive in the 21st Century. But Health Information Managers (HIMs) are like chameleons--we have always adapted and changed to embrace our emerging role in the evolving health system structures. We were once known as Medical Record Librarians and then we transformed into Medical Record Administrators. When we realised we were not content to stay in the 'basement' forever, we emerged as Health Information Managers. So, what is next for our profession?
The theme of this Issue of HIMJ, 'the health information management workforce: changes and opportunities', is a call to reflect on the opportunities that change can offer. Opportunities abound! The need for our skills is more evident now than ever before, and the recognition of the skills of HIMs is at an all-time high.
"So, what is a HIM?" One of the challenges that I have observed, and many colleagues have attested to, is that HIMs are rarely able to provide a simple answer to this question. In response to this dilemma, I have developed a personal reply that I hope you may also find helpful. I now use the following 'mantra':
I believe that unless we are able to clearly articulate what it is that we do, and what it is that makes us unique, we will have difficulty convincing others of the vital importance of HIMs in the future health workforce. We also run the risk of our value being diluted by other professional groups.
The question of 'what is a HIM' is not unique to Australia. Deirdre Murphy's paper (Murphy 2010) outlines the opportunities (or challenges) for Irish coders, who also use ICD-10-AM. Many of the sentiments expressed by Murphy in relation to the Irish coder workforce are similar to those I have heard expressed by Australian coders and HIMs. These relate to the 'visibility' of the health information management workforce, as well as the recognition of this unique skill set.
The current workforce shortage, which throws the spotlight on HIMs, also offers unique opportunities for HIMs to showcase their skills. In this Issue, Brooke Macpherson (Macpherson 2010) identifies specific HIM skills that are needed to create data that are 'fit for purpose'. Carly Uzkuraitis, Karen Hastings and Belinda Torney (Uzkuraitis et al. 2010) describe an opportunity grasped, and the remarkable results they achieved through conducting their own WIES 'optimisation' audit. Using existing resources, they were able to significantly increase revenue, which led to greater recognition of the health information management and coder workforce, and funding of these services.
Opportunities do not always present where we expect to find them. Twittering of surgeries, email and video conferencing are the new frontiers and opportunities not to be missed by HIMs. Scott Baum and colleagues (Baum et al. 2010) also compel us to consider the role of Geographic Information Systems in the future of health information use. Glenda Wyatt and Jenni Webster (Wyatt & Webster 2010) have each reported on different aspects of the Technology in Healthcare Summit 2009. Both have remarked on the relative absence of HIMs at IT summits such as these, in spite of the key role HIMs can play as change managers.
Earlier this year, when I personally attended the Clinical Documentation, Coding and Analysis Conference in Melbourne, I was encouraged by the number and quality of the HIMs in attendance. Three of the reports in this issue of HIMJ have been adapted from papers presented at this conference (Shepheard 2010; Uzkuratis, Hastings & Torney 2010; Stewart & Robben 2010). In addition, the report on the conference itself by Jennie Shepheard and Brian Stanley (Shepheard & Stanley 2010) outlines the critical role of coding and clinical documentation in the new health reform/activity-based funding environment. The specific role of documentation was highlighted and strategies to manage this were demonstrated. Communication and education were also highlighted as the key to improvement in all aspects of documentation and coding.
Within the overall discussion of challenges for the health information management workforce at the national level, there are also specific challenges relating to demographics in the current workforce. Jennie Shepheard's paper (Shepheard 2010) outlines issues currently faced by the Victorian health information management workforce, which includes results of recent studies that highlight the fact that much of the coding is currently undertaken by young females in the health information management workforce. Shepheard draws attention to the potential implications of a national rollout of activity-based funding, while continuing to address existing issues such as vacancies, courses, interstate competition, increasing demand as well as the uncertainty of the future due to electronic health records (EHR). Narelle Portakiewicz (Portakiewicz 2010), the Chief HIM in South Australia, draws attention to the importance of flexible work arrangements for many young professional women, specifically HIMs, and the challenges they face by rapid promotion. Portakiewicz also points out that workforce shortages are compounded in states where there are no university courses in health information management. Portakeiwicz's report supports Shepheard's contention that workforce shortages in key areas of health information management have the potential to increase tensions that are already emerging due to interstate workforce flows.
The importance of continuing education in the workplace and its relationship to issues of quality assurance is also highlighted in papers in this Issue. Lesley Stainkey and colleagues (Stainkey et al. 2010), for example, demonstrate the value of good electronic discharge summaries to both GPs and consultants, and the need for better education of interns who traditionally complete these summaries. Ann Stewart and Tony Robben (Stewart & Robben 2010) provide robust evidence of the efficacy of a simple but innovative documentation training package to make significant improvements in the clinical documentation in the hospitals of their area health service, which supports the value of documentation for all clinical and follow-up care.
Lyndal Bugeja and colleagues (Bugeja et al. 2010) provide an example of the type of careful rigorous research that underpins health information management processes and practices to ensure best practice. Bugeja et al. acknowledge the value of the cause of death codes in the National Coroners Information System, while highlighting some limitations with the collection. The NCIS's response acknowledges these limitations but affirms their commitment to improving the ICD-10 codes into the future.
The papers in this issue of HIMJ attest to the many and varied opportunities for satisfying and rewarding careers in the health information management workforce, both in Australia and overseas. Sue Walker, who has been a great role model to me and many others, tells of her wonderful career as a HIM and the great variety of interesting and important roles she has undertaken. Sue's work both in Australia and internationally is a great example of the boundless opportunities available for HIMs. Kerrie Clement (Clement 2010) offers an interesting insight into the personal and professional reward of working in developing countries (one to which I can personally attest) and highlights the challenges of aid work, while inspiring us to take opportunities that may be outside our 'comfort zones'. Clement's Solomon Island journey particularly notes the need to adapt to 'Pacific time', and that the simple solutions are often the best.
Phyllis Watson's tribute to Joyce Wilson on her passing reminds us of the legacy of those HIMs who have gone before us and who have provided the solid ground upon which we now stand. Let us honour this legacy and strive to emulate Joyce Wilson's dedication as we embrace the challenges of the future.
Harry Truman once said, 'a pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties'. (2) My fervent hope is that the Australian health information management workforce will see the current challenges and changes as optimists and take hold of these firmly in both hands and move the profession forward into the changing health system of the future.
Baum, S., Kendall, E., Muenchberger, H., Gudes, O. and Yigitcanlar, T. (2010). Geographical information systems and decision support platforms: useful tools for community health coalitions in Australia. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 28-33.
Bugeja, L., Clapperton, A.J., Killian, J.J., Stephan, K.L. and Ozanne Smith, J. (2010). Reliability of ICD-10 external cause of death codes in the National Coroners Information System. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 16-26.
Butler-Henderson, K. (2010). Health reform, health data and the Health Information Manager. (Guest Editorial). Health Information Management Journal 39(2): 7-8.
Clement, K. (2010). Solomon Islands experience--Holiday with a Heart. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 60-62.
Macpherson, B. (2010). The role of a Health Information Manager in creating data fit for purpose. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 58-59.
Murphy, D. (2010). Coder education and the professionalization of the role of the clinical coder. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 42-46.
Pearse, J. and Daking, L. (2010). A response to Bugeja, Clapperton, Killian, Stephan and Ozanne-Smith. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 27.
Portakiewicz, N. (2010). Narelle Portakiewicz: Chief Health Information Manager, SA Health. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 66-67.
Shepheard, J. (2010). Health information management and clinical coding workforce issues. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 37-41.
Shepheard, J. and Stanley, B. (2010). Clinical Documentation, Coding & Analysis Conference. Conference report. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 53-54.
Stainkey, L., Pain, T., McNichol, M., Hack, J. and Roberts, L. (2010). Matched comparison of GP and consultant rating of electronic discharge summaries. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 7-15.
Stewart, A. and Robben, T. (2010). 'Write Right'--clinical documentation project. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 50-52.
Toth, A. (2010). Current issues impacting on the education of the health information management workforce: role of the HIMAA Education Committee. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 34-36.
Uzkuraitis, C., Hastings, K. and Torney, B. (2010). Casemix funding optimization: working together to make the most of every episode. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 57-59.
Walker, S. (2010). Sue Walker: a wonderful career. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 63-65.
Wyatt, G. and Webster, J. (2010). Technology in Healthcare Summit. Conference report. Health Information Management Journal 39(3): 55-57.
Vicki Bennett BAppSc(HIM), MHSc(Health Informatics)
President, HIMAA and Head (acting)
Continuing and Specialised Care Group
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
GPO Box 570
Canberra ACT 2601
Tel: +61 6249 5082
Fax: +61 6244 1299
HIMs provide information for evidence-based decision-making at all levels of the health system.
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|