HIMAA STRATEGY CALLS FOR INDUSTRY CHANGE The health information management sector is facing major workforce challenges as opportunities for post-secondary qualifications decline and a lack of understanding of the role of health information managers (HIMs) and clinical coders becomes more prevalent. HIMAA has devised a strategic plan to overcome these challenges.
JENNY GILDER MRA Senior vice president, HIMAA
In the recently launched Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) Strategic Plan for 2014-2016, the result of membership research involving over 320 member contacts, identifies workforce as the key issue. Members report workforce shortages across Australia leading to role substitution and downward pressure on existing health information managers (HIMs) and clinical coders as the cause of a decline in morale in the health information profession. Erosion of the number of university courses available for undergraduate qualifications in health information management is another readily identified factor in workforce shortage, especially significant in NSW with the loss of the University of Sydney course in 2007.
Executive support lacking
About the author Jenny Gilder’s professional experience includes many years in the management of medical record departments, clinical coding and quality management. Since retiring from the workforce in June 2013, she has taken on a much more active role with HIMAA, holding a variety of positions including senior vice president of the HIMAA board.
Traditionally the profession has been valued as key providers of advice and expertise in the area of health information management and clinical coding, often undertaken as dual roles. But HIMAA research found that poorly informed management, particularly at an executive level, is seen by members as a major source of the decline in standing of health information management in healthcare facilities.
As one senior respondent to our research commented, “When people know HIMs and what they can do they are very, very positive, but we still come across those throughout the health sector who have an old-fashioned view towards medical records. Because we don’t have direct patient contact, we’re not as well known.” The 2013 Health Information Workforce Report from the Health Workforce Agency places a more informaticsfocused chief information officer as the coordinator of a range of clinically oriented CIOs (nursing, medical, clinical). Information management expertise is completely absent from the report’s future configuration of health information at the executive level. Similarly, the PCEHR review report aches for the absence of information management. Besides position titles, the report mentions ‘information’ 235 times. It is most commonly qualified as ‘clinical’ and next as ‘health’. Health information professionals are mentioned once, in appendices to the main report. ‘Health’, ‘information’ and ‘management’ do not occur together at all, nor does ‘information’ and ‘management’. HIMAA, even though it made a joint submission with the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA), is omitted from the list of 86 other contributors to the review.
Pulse+IT Magazine - Australasia's first and only eHealth and Health IT magazine.