HIMs come out of the closet and up from the dungeons

The Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) is holding its inaugural awareness week for health information management next week, declaring that health information management professionals are ready to come out of the closet and up from the dungeons to introduce themselves to the wider health system and the public in general.

The week will see HIM professionals in over 30 sites offering hospital tours, lobby displays, information sessions and quizzes to get the HIM message out of the 'dungeons’ – as many refer to the basements in which they are invariably ensconced – to the public and to colleagues in their own health facilities.

HIMAA describes its members as the “connectivity brokers for the health system” in the management of people's personal health information.

“We connect information between clinicians, managers and executives,” HIMAA president Jenny Gilder said. “The data we produce can help to identify the actual source of clinical problems and be used to support patient care.”

Ms Gilder said HIMs also often move into many other roles in the health system, such as data manager, quality manager, clinical researcher, educator, data analyst, eHealth project manager and health information services director.

“Some of them even become the CEOs of our hospitals,” she said. “These days, they are also working in primary care, to assist our GPs and community healthcare practitioners manage the complexities of classification, information security, integrity and interoperability in a digitising health system.

“As for the second-most populous occupation in our profession, clinical coders convert the records produced by frontline clinicians and therapists into classification codes that ensure their meaningful transmission throughout the health system for research and planning, as well as storage in a way that is accessible by your consulting doctor in the future.

“And believe me, the rumours about doctors’ handwriting not exaggerated. They say that a good clinical coder can read a spider walking across the wall.”

Ms Gilder said health information is now being stored in shared health records such as the My Health Record, as well as the records of individual health providers, in a way that is accessible in perpetuity anywhere in Australia.

“These are exciting times, but without health information management professionals to ensure patient privacy, the confidentiality and security of their health information, its accuracy, and its sustainability in storage such that it remains information when a doctor tries to access it 20 years down the track, the patient will be vulnerable,” she said.

“It’s time we came out of the closet and introduced ourselves.”

The inaugural HIM Awareness Week will be held from March 14 to 18. See the HIMAA website for more information.

Posted in Australian eHealth


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