2017 AHIMA House of Delegates Report

The recently concluded 2017 AHIMA House of Delegates held in Los Angeles on Sunday October 8th, was charged this year with examining and making recommendations on five issues of current importance to the HIM profession. CHIA’s five delegates were each assigned primary responsibility for one House issue. The five topics were divided into issue groups consisting of:

  1. Business Process Outsourcing
  2. Consumer Engagement
  3. HIM Reimagined (HIMR)
  4. Professional Development
  5. Future of the House

The five issues and recommendations made are summarized in the CHIA delegate reports.


1. Business Process Outsourcing
Reported by: Debra Primeau, RHIA, FAHIMA

The Business Process Outsourcing issue group discussed the impact of offshoring coding services, specifically as it relates to the loss of coding jobs in the US. The group was provided with a survey that was initiated by AHIMA in 2016 as part of HIM Reimagined (HIMR) as well as market research that was conducted by AHIMA in 2017 to validate the recommendations made in HIMR. Both of these reference documents indicated that the number of coding professionals needed in the future would be decreasing, but not just due to offshoring. Technology advancements are directly impacting the number of future coding jobs and the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 showed that coder productivity and quality returned near ICD-9 levels in about six months resulting in fewer coding jobs. There was disagreement amongst the group in whether coding quality was adversely affected by offshoring and the group recommended case studies and additional research would be needed to validate anecdotal information. Further, the group recommended AHIMA identify opportunities in conjunction with the HIMR initiative to provide additional education to current and existing coding professionals to meet the needs of the future as coding jobs transition to data analytic roles.


2. Consumer Engagement
Reported by Brian Faust, MLS, RHIA

The consumer engagement issue group was charged with identifying opportunities to engage consumers in their health care and increasing the understanding of the role of HIM professionals in consumer engagement. In a background SBAR it was noted that patients are increasingly relying on technologies and social media to form and grow relationships with their healthcare providers. Most of this issue group’s discussion focused on the role of patient portals in engaging consumers. A number of delegates commented on the challenges faced by their institutions enrolling consumers to use portals. It was also noted that there are significant variations in the information made available to consumers on portals and how quickly the information is made available. CHIA shared with delegates its consumer engagement strategic initiatives and its plans for a Consumer Engagement Task Force. Recommendations made by the consumer engagement group included identifying baseline “metrics” for measuring engagement, promoting community outreach and education, formation of a HOD task force on consumer engagement and identifying “consumer engagement” as an immerging HIM role.


3. HIM Reimagined (HIMR)
Reported by Diana McWaid, RHIA, CDIP, CCS, CPC, CRC, SSLP

HIM Reimagined (HIMR) is a framework to create future roles for HIM professionals that builds on AHIMA’s foundation and ensures continued relevance and the need for a rapid transformation of the HIM profession. In 2014, AHIMA conducted a workforce study which was followed up in 2017 by a broad-based market research focused on identifying the HIM jobs of the future in both traditional and new workplace settings.

During the House of Delegate session, the moderators reviewed the study results and then the delegates broke into workgroups to brainstorm on ideas for additional recommendations for AHIMA to consider for future planning. In the break-out sessions, the brainstorming included discussions on topics such as developing AHIMA scholarships as a bridge to assist those holding and a RHIT credential to prepare for the transition to a RHIA credential; additional work to understand the job market for the healthcare industry; and a need to explore the challenges for the existing HIM programs. Each of the groups reported out and the following topics were identified as the recommendations for future consideration by AHIMA:

  1. HIM awareness. Communicate to internal and external stakeholders who we are, what we do and what value we provide.
  2. Pathways for advancement. Focus on providing timely and affordable education.
  3. Market value. Internal and external data to demonstrate market value. Explore what tools can calculate value in organization.
  4. Growth. Develop strategies for promoting our profession to build an applicant pool and increase recognition.

During the House of Delegates, the representatives from across the country worked together on identifying the priorities for AHIMA beginning in 2018. It was valuable to have all of the delegates speak up about the future of the HIM profession. HIM Reimagined (HIMR) is a framework to create future roles for HIM professionals that builds on our foundation and ensures our continued relevance during a time of rapid transition and we will continue to learn more in the coming months about this important topic.


4. Professional Development
Reported by Maria Alizondo, MOL, RHIT, FAHIMA

The AHIMA House of Delegates Professional Development and Leadership breakout sessions considered two primary objectives, 1) Develop strategies for promoting our profession to build applicant pools and increase recognition, and 2) Identify needed skills to prepare our working professionals for the future of HIM. The participants engaged in an assessment of the current state of professional HIM development that included, the need to define the HIM role better and what our credentials offer organizations, leadership development is focused on higher level positions and it’s required at all levels, and how leadership development might address the wage gap between education and experience. The groups also assessed the skills needed to be successful in leading change, such as communication, strategic thinking/decision making, financial acumen, lifelong learning and coping with change. Additionally, the assessment discussions acknowledged emerging position titles, for instance patient experience manager, data analytics or business intelligence specialist, revenue integrity, eHealth manager, patient portal coordinator, HIM ambassador.

The breakout sessions concluded with real, and meaningful recommendations for the AHIMA House of Delegates and the Component State Associations to consider, the focus of which was the agreement that a foundational leadership framework is needed in order for these activities to move forward. This includes, addressing cultural differences in HIM professional approach to practice, low-cost training options like podcasts to close the technology gap, and to create a leadership assembly like AOE to learn and share best practices. The skills requirements for undertaking this endeavor might include, resourcefulness, networking, visionary thinking, ability to showcase skills, self-promotion of credentials and expertise. Overall the recommendations supported the fundamental idea that leadership development begins with the first HIM education session a new professional engages in and is presented throughout their academic journey. Build leadership competencies into a program, this could work online, and include executive mentorship making it available to professionals at all levels. Once a solid framework is developed training tools should be included, such as accountability matrices to use as a self-assessment, leadership roundtable at the state or national level, mentoring at all levels, state meetings to focus on hot topics in leadership.


5. Future of the House
Reported by Jon Stuart, RHIA, CRCR

This group was charged with answering the following questions about the HOD.

  1. Does the current House meet your CSA needs? Member needs? (e.g., structure, process, and/or culture)
  2. Are there barriers to communication with the current House structure?
  3. Is the selection of delegates effective within your CSA? (Current structure: Leadership team, Envisioning team, practice councils)
  4. If changes are recommended, what is an acceptable timeline for changes to the House?

Considering the three issues: Relevancy, Apportionment, and Communication, prioritize the issues.

Relevancy & Purpose:

  • Clarification of Bylaws – Come to consensus of what a forum is & bi-directional communication
  • Uniform structure for all CSA’s – which would enable more consistency
  • Role of the AHIMA Board Liaison with House Activities
  • HOD needs more participation in making changes in AHIMA – Possible 2 day session – Also like the ability to provide/conduct voting with the membership.
  • Possible online HOD component

Apportionment:

  • Number of Delegates from each state – 2? So much info – so much reporting – 2 might be overwhelmed
  • Possibly 2 Reps to HOD only – Moving SBARS throughout the year
  • Is there a value in 5 attendees? Let states decide how many to send – because of cost issues
  • Is there any way to collaborate / Regional perhaps?
  • Possible longer meeting to address other topics

Communication:

  • Quarterly Newsletter Template from AHIMA to CSA leaders to distribute to Members (Reminders about dashboard & where to find things)
  • Delegate Communication – so delegates know what information to share with members
  • Standardize so all email come with an HOD tagline
  • Ensure Delegates have a say in prioritizing topics of focus (SBAR process)
  • Transparency – Sharing feedback with all delegates – and also with Voting on issues
  • Standard Operating Procedures with SBARs: Timelines for responses, sharing feedback – structure for feedback from all states
  • Accountability from Delegates as well as Board Liaisons
  • Collaboration between states – Regional forums on Engage (Discussion Boards)
  • State Report Cards – Providing standard communication to Members
  • Establish a portal for SBARs- Awareness on Triage (SBAR) process
  • Post-Convention Message/Summary from HOD