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What’s Up With HIM? Three Things to Know


The new year has officially come and gone, and we’ve found our way back into the 20s. Fortunately, health information management has become more sophisticated (and complicated) than anyone who lived a century ago would have ever guessed.

Now that we’re here, it’s time to buckle down and tackle the tough issues facing health information management (HIM) professionals. Fortunately, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has set the stage by outlining key issues and problem areas that are likely to have the most impact on the industry this year. So, if you want to know what’s up with HIM this year, here’s a recap of what the experts are looking closely at for the coming year.

The three HIM impact areas to watch for 2020 as outlined by AHIMA execs include – integrity, connection and access. These areas were included in AHIMA’s strategic plan, which was announced last year – but what do they mean exactly? It appears to be all about 1) Ensuring the health data created and used is of the highest integrity; 2) Appropriately allowing for the sharing of data between patients, providers and payers; and 3) Making sure the policies and practices in place balance the need for confidentiality and security and access to protected health information (PHI).

Here are a few ways AHIMA hopes to put these impact areas to work in 2020.

  • 1. Focus on Patient ID – Every HIM professional knows patient misidentification and patient matching are critical issues to be tackled. As such, AHIMA has dubbed 2020 as “The Year of Patient Matching.” They’re looking at a people/process/technology (PPT) approach to making progress – ensuring the people capturing information at the point of service are well-trained; focusing on the process of managing duplicate reporting; and the use of technologies such as patient matching algorithms, third-party data and even biometric devices.Dating back to last year, AHIMA and its partners also worked to help promote the adoption of a national strategy for addressing the age-old problem of patient misidentification – one that could possibly be improved by the adoption of a universal patient identified (UPI). While politics continue to play a role, progress was made over the summer when HR2740 was passed – a bill in the U.S. House that could pave the way for this change. Any changes made to address these key issues will allow HIM professionals to play a key role in patient safety – stay tuned for a continued focus on these areas in 2020. In the meantime, and regardless of legislative action, AHIMA encourages HIM professionals to do everything within their power inside their own organizations to focus on reducing duplicate records and patient misidentification – it’s almost certainly the most impact an HIM team can have on patient safety.2. Integrity Trumps Improvement – Previously known as clinical documentation improvement, AHIMA is now referring to CDI as clinical documentation integrity. This shift, while subtle, signals the importance of maintaining the integrity of entire patient record, rather than on improving certain elements of the documentation. Focusing on data integrity as a whole is a more comprehensive goal and can support informed decision-making throughout a patient’s encounter.3. The Importance of Capturing SDOH – Social determinants of health (SDOH) such as housing status, education, access to food and transportation, social support, employment and more – all are critical elements of a patient’s medical record, since they’ve been proven time and again to have a significant impact on a person’s overall health. As such, as HIM professionals – we know that capturing this information in the patient’s record is critical, yet it’s often not done, or it’s done in an inconsistent manner that makes it difficult for clinicians to use the information. As such, AHIMA will continue to focus on being a part of discussions around capturing SHOD information in the record – including participating in Health Level Seven’s (HL7) Gravity Project. This effort is aimed at standardizing codes related to SDOH and developing consistent methods for documenting and sharing the information captured.
  • GeBBS Healthcare Solutions is committed to supporting health information management (HIM) professionals with a whole suite of HIM solutions. To learn more, visit gebbs.com.

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