Natalie Sims: Project Manager, Health Care Safety and Quality Unit, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Junior Vice-President, HIMAA Board of Directors.
Subject: Executives (Beliefs, opinions and attitudes)
Executives (Practice)
Medical care (Quality management)
Medical care (Management)
Pub Date: 02/01/2009
Publication: Name: Health Information Management Journal Publisher: Health Information Management Association of Australia Ltd. Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Health Information Management Association of Australia Ltd. ISSN: 1833-3583
Issue: Date: Feb, 2009 Source Volume: 38 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 540 Executive changes & profiles Computer Subject: Company business management
Product: Product Code: 7374350 Health Industry DP Services NAICS Code: 51421 Data Processing Services SIC Code: 7374 Data processing and preparation
Persons: Named Person: Sims, Natalie; Sims, Natalie
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 216488658

Where it all began

While working as a K-Mart lay-by operator had its advantages (one being meeting my husband-to-be!), the time came when I needed to choose a serious career path. My first university degree choice was Commerce--Management, but after being accepted into the course I still felt this wasn't quite right for me. The moment that set my career in motion occurred through a meeting with a friend, whose housemate was at the time studying Health Information Management at Curtin University. She described what the course entailed (management, health, and statistics, with an array of career options at the end) and I decided it was right up my alley. Within a week, I had enrolled in the course!

John James Memorial Hospital

In 2002, while completing my final exams, I was offered a position as Health Information Manager (HIM) at a 150 bed private hospital in Canberra, the John James Memorial Hospital. Oh, and it was also 3925km from my home in WA! This position would turn out to be a great learning opportunity for my first year out of university and enabled me to put all of my recently learned skills to use. In the very first week I encountered the basics of health information management: forms design, practical coding, chairing committees, running a department, implementing projects and managing staff. I worked with the Quality Unit to report Australian Council of Healthcare Standards' (ACHS) indicators, created a department policy and procedure manual, developed business cases, submitted hospital morbidity data and was also the hospital Privacy Officer and Equal Employment Opportunity Contact Officer.

As it was such a small hospital I was able to be involved in many areas that may not otherwise have been available to me. This position was a strong foundation for my career in health information management and it was a great learning experience, but new challenges awaited me elsewhere.

ACT Health

After three and a half years at John James Hospital, I took up a position in Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Health's Information Management Section as the Metadata Manager. For 12 months I was responsible for developing data standards, key performance indicator (KPI) definitions, policy and business rules for ACT Health. I also had the opportunity to work on the performance indicator framework development and sit on the National Health Data Standards Committee as the ACT Health representative. I also found some spare time to get married and buy our first home in Canberra!

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

In February 2008 I started work for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Health Care Safety and Quality Unit. In this position I have been responsible for the management of a national data sets and standards project, and development of a web based inventory of data sources relevant to safety and quality in health care. I have also been involved with the National Indicator project, and development of a set of safety and quality indicators for health care.

I guess you could say this role isn't a 'traditional' health information management role. My skills in clinical coding have been put to good use in the development of indicator definition and collection methodologies and my knowledge of data development and national data sources has been very helpful in this area. I never dreamed that when I finished my university course I would be working in roles such as these and having input to national projects.


Over the past six years I have been involved in as many aspects of our professional association as possible. In the beginning I was very grateful to be introduced to the ACT HIMAA Branch. Being new to Canberra at that time meant I didn't know many people, but after one meeting of the ACT branch I had made six new health information management friends, with whom, as you can imagine, I had a lot in common (colour coordinating pegs on the washing line being one of them!). The ACT branch (now the Capital Region Network) although not large, is very social, and there has been a great group of colleagues who get together on a quarterly basis and talk about the many information management happenings in the ACT as well as nationally.

In 2007 I joined the National HIMAA Board, where I now hold the position of Junior Vice President. Over the last year and a half it has been exciting to be part of a group that is so enthusiastic about our profession, our development as HIMs and our members. I have also thoroughly enjoyed working on and convening a number of HIMAA conferences and symposia, and putting those HIM organisational skills to good use. I cannot recommend highly enough that HIMs become involved in their state branches, connect with fellow HIMs and improve the strength of our profession.

And so the journey continues

The journey, although short so far, has been interesting and diverse. I look forward to our future as Health Information Managers, the many changes and challenges to come and the continuing strength of HIMAA. I am thankful that I met that friend that night and through her discovered the beginning of my career in health information management.

Natalie Sims BSc(HIM)

Project Manager

Health Care Safety and Quality Unit

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

26 Thynne Street

Fern Hill Park

Bruce ACT 2617


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