The evolution of Health Information Management (HIM) professionals has been remarkable. They are no longer paper pushers (literally) and are now stewards of healthcare data. Jennifer Mueller, President of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), sees a bright future for the HIM industry.
Healthcare IT Today sat down with Jennifer Mueller, AHIMA President and the Vice President & Privacy Officer at the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center (WHAIC) to the explore the past, present, and bright future of HIM professionals. We caught up with her at the 2023 American Health Information Management Association annual conference (AHIMA23).
Putting Paper in the Rearview Mirror
It wasn’t that long ago that HIM professionals were responsible for managing paper medical records. The era of rolling shelves, paperclips, and Dictaphones ended less than 20 years ago. Prior to the Meaningful Use incentives in 2005, only 20% of medical records were stored electronically.
A lot has changed.
“I lived through that transition,” said Mueller with a smile. “When I started my career in health information, I worked in the medical records department. We had a wall full of paper records. There were 14 volunteers that would file papers. Within 10 years, we had no more paper records. Ten is relatively fast to go completely paperless.”
HIM Professionals = Stewards of Health Data
Today, HIM professionals are not only responsible for accurate record-keeping but also play a crucial role in ensuring the quality and usability of the vast amounts of healthcare data.
“We are collecting so much data now,” continued Mueller. “It’s now up to us to ensure that data is accurate, timely, and useful. We have to ask ourselves – how can we help to leverage that data to improve patient care.”
One area where Mueller believes HIM professionals can make a significant difference is interoperability. HIM professionals have a long history of sharing health information – something that Mueller hinted was “baked into our DNA”. Now as the stewards of electronic health data, HIM professionals can ensure their data conforms to the latest standards and that their information processes comply with the latest regulations, like the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA).
Future HIM Opportunities and Advice
Looking ahead, Mueller encouraged HIM professionals to stay informed about industry developments, citing AHIMA as a valuable resource. With a focus on the “Data for Better Health” initiative, she urged professionals to leverage their skills in data management to elevate their organizations.
“AHIMA is helping bring light to the importance of collecting, using, and sharing that information,” stated Mueller. “I think health information professionals can be leaders in their organization in those initiatives.”
As the HIM profession continues to evolve, embracing technology and staying abreast of industry changes will be pivotal.
Watch the interview with Jennifer Mueller to learn:
- How AI will impact the HIM profession
- Why the HIM profession is a smart career choice
- What’s next for AHIMA
Learn more about AHIMA at https://www.ahima.org/
Learn more about Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center at https://www.whainfocenter.com/
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