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WORKFORCE, E-HEALTH AND CLASSIFICATION In addition to a number of workforce issues, eHealth and clinical classification emerged as key themes at the HIMAA NCCH National Conference in Darwin in October. Research was also high on the agenda, with a number of speakers urging the health information management and clinical coding professions to consider the value of research.


In her keynote presentation, Joanne Callen, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research (CHSSR) at the University of New South Wales, took delegates through examples of research into ICT implementations undertaken by the centre that have demonstrated benefits of eHealth to those managing the change, and to patients. In one example, a Sydney hospital’s rheumatology department reduced seven information systems – four manual and thee electronic – into the one electronic medication management (eMM) system. Associate Professor Callen’s team was engaged to evaluate the impact of the eMM system on nurse work processes, and was able to demonstrate to management that nurses spent less time monitoring and more time on patient care.

About the author Richard Lawrance is the CEO of the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA). He has been an education and strategy consultant for several general practice organisations and spent nine years as the national rural manager for the RACGP.

Qualitative research with the nurses themselves revealed that, while they valued the improvement to their practice facilitated by eMM, what they particularly valued was its patient safety benefits – itself a positive outcome that decision makers might not otherwise have realised. In another example, research with emergency department clinicians involved in the integration of electronic data systems into ward rounds across hospitals in two NSW local health districts found

that not only did they value the ability to electronically capture clinical information at the point of care for immediate input by remote physicians, but their own documentation skills improved – an unexpected benefit. Dr Callen encouraged health information professionals attending the conference to embrace research in their own practice. She and Dr Stella Rowlands, editors of HIMAA’s health information management journals, conducted a workshop on qualitative research called Research Without Numbers, which attempted to demystify pathways into research for delegates at the conference. Dr Callen and Dr Rowlands are inaugural members of HIMAA’s new Research Working Group, which was launched at the conference by HIMAA president Sallyanne Wissmann. It aims to implement a dedicated research strategy in HIMAA’s 2014-16 Strategic Plan.

HIM in general practice Also at the conference, Dr Joan Henderson, the deputy director of the University of Sydney’s Family Medicine Research Centre (FMRC), encouraged the introduction of health information management in general practice to improve the value of primary care data to the health system.

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