HIMAA puts the focus on credentialing and workforce needs

The Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) has relaunched its Professional Credentialing Scheme as part of its strategic focus on health information workforce needs.

The revised scheme involves introducing evidence-based criteria of educational effectiveness and quality improvement to its point allocation schedule, as well as mapping to HIMAA’s health information management competency standards.

The HIMAA professional credentialing scheme offers two classes of post-nominal: certified health information manager (CHIM) or certified health information practitioner (CHIP).

HIMAA president Sallyanne Wissmann told the combined HIMAA National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) Conference in Darwin last week that because most HIMAA members already have a qualification, particularly those in the clinical coding (CC) and health information manager (HIM) occupations, the credentialing scheme was more focused on maintaining the currency of the member’s credential.

Workforce issues were a strong theme of the conference, with former Curtin University HIM course co-ordinator Kerryn Butler-Henderson reporting on research conducted by her firm, KBH Consulting, and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) into the effect of Health Workforce Australia’s 2013 Health Information Workforce report.

Dr Butler-Henderson told the conference that there was agreement in the profession with the report’s recommendation on the need to define the workforce and develop a coordinated strategy involving the three key professional organisations: HIMAA, the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) and the Australasian College of Health Informatics (ACHI).

The HWA report highlighted the need to address known health information workforce shortages, with Dr Butler-Henderson reporting on activity in the field since it was released.

These included the recommencement of a health information management degree by QUT in 2013 and the return of a HIM degree in NSW as part of a Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology (Health Information Management) degree to be offered by the University of Western Sydney from 2015.

While Curtin University has decided to cancel what was then the only distance learning graduate entry master's course, the University of Tasmania has stepped in to offer a Master of Health Information Management degree by distance learning from next year.

The UTAS course will combine a graduate certificate component with a master's course otherwise designed for practising and qualified health information managers.

“We need to change the profile of the profession and stop working in silos,” Dr Butler-Henderson said. “HIMAA is already taking a number of steps in positioning and advocacy and research agenda, and I am excited about the future.”

Victorian Department of Health productivity and health information workforce manager Julie Brophy reported the successful accreditation earlier this year of a Certificate IV course in clinical classification, which has created Australia’s first dedicated VET level qualification for clinical coders.

Ms Brophy said there was interest from a number of registered training organisations in delivering the new qualification, including HIMAA.

She also told the conference that the profession needed to embrace certification as a means of better positioning the profession. Ms Brophy, who was recently appointed as chair of HIMAA’s Workforce Working Group, is amongst the first group of graduates of the Certified Health Informatician Australia (CHIA) program offered through a partnership between HISA, HIMAA and ACHI.

HIMAA has initiated discussions with ACHI and put a formal proposal to HISA for the development of a joint workforce strategy to present to government and industry.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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