Summit to confront challenges of health information workforce

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An action plan to address shortages in the health information management workforce is the aim of a summit being organised by the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) in late October.

HIMAA is looking for answers to the workforce challenges facing the sector, including some of those outlined in the 2013 Health Workforce Australia (HWA) health information workforce report.

HIMAA is inviting state and federal government representatives as well as fellow health informatics peak bodies the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) and the Australasian College of Health Informatics (ACHI) to the summit, being held in association with the organisation's annual conference in Sydney on October 30.

However, HIMAA president Sallyanne Wissmann said the primary target audience was the membership of the health information management profession itself, “as it is from this group that government and industry needs to hear”.

They will be asked about the potential effect on the healthcare system if there are not sufficient health information management professionals to manage the data and information it is so dependent on, as well as what strategies are needed to increase and equip the health information management workforce.

Ms Wissmann said the HWA report provided a landmark opportunity to address current workforce challenges and plan for the future of the workforce.

“The report establishes clearly in its early sections just how important key occupations in the health information management profession are in the management of health information within the healthcare system,” she said.

“Health information managers and clinical coders represent 64 per cent of the health information workforce identified by the report.

“To its credit, the HWA report recommends addressing ‘known shortages’ of health information management workforce, but HIMAA’s membership research indicates that not enough may be ‘known’ at all.”

Ms Wissmann said a survey of HIMAA members in December last year indicated that one in three respondents were experiencing clinical coder vacancies within their organisation and one in five report health information manager workforce gaps.

“In the next three years, one in three respondents to our survey forecast a demand for health information managers averaging an additional 2.25 [FTE, full time equivalent] per organisation, while clinical coder demand was expected to average 3.12 additional FTE.

“Yet supply for both disciplines was reported as poor by more than 50 per cent of respondents.”

Ms Wissmann said that as the Australian Health Ministers’ health workforce principal committee was currently looking at implementing the recommendations of the HWA report that warrant a national approach, current and future workforce planning in health information management is now pressing.

The health information workforce summit will be held in conjunction with HIMAA's national conference, which it is hosting with the National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH), at the Dockside Cockle Bay Rooms at Darling Harbour on Friday, October 30.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Comments   

# Kathleen Alloway 2015-08-19 14:41
A quick comment:
Supply of 'skilled work ready' coders is more the issue?
Current WA Health Reform Program includes a coding and classification project with workforce assessment/stra tegy deliverable.
I would not agree that the target audience is predominantly HIM profession and the HWA report is much broader but yes not enough is known about what the shortages are. Is shortage is the right word depends on the current or long term view. Whats missing/Gaps: People, Skills, Roles and responsibilitie s, education/train ing, career opportunities, attracting young people etc..

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