HIMAA strategy calls for industry change

This story first appeared in the August 2014 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

The health information management sector is facing major workforce challenges as opportunities for post-secondary qualifications decline and a lack of understanding of the role of health information managers (HIMs) and clinical coders becomes more prevalent. HIMAA has devised a strategic plan to overcome these challenges.

In the recently launched Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) Strategic Plan for 2014-2016, the result of membership research involving over 320 member contacts, identifies workforce as the key issue. Members report workforce shortages across Australia leading to role substitution and downward pressure on existing health information managers (HIMs) and clinical coders as the cause of a decline in morale in the health information profession.

Erosion of the number of university courses available for undergraduate qualifications in health information management is another readily identified factor in workforce shortage, especially significant in NSW with the loss of the University of Sydney course in 2007.

Traditionally the profession has been valued as key providers of advice and expertise in the area of health information management and clinical coding, often undertaken as dual roles. But HIMAA research found that poorly informed management, particularly at an executive level, is seen by members as a major source of the decline in standing of health information management in healthcare facilities.

As one senior respondent to our research commented, “When people know HIMs and what they can do they are very, very positive, but we still come across those throughout the health sector who have an old-fashioned view towards medical records. Because we don’t have direct patient contact, we’re not as well known.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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