Clinical Coder Working Group: developing performance standards for Clinical Coders


In 1996, the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) released its Clinical Coder National Competency Standards and Assessment Guide (HIMAA 1996). Since then, this guide has been used by Clinical Coding Managers and Clinical Coding Educators to guide them in managing clinical coding teams. While some hospitals have since created their own competency or performance standards for internal use, the HIMAA guide has not been updated. In March 2018, HIMAA released, for consultation, a set of Clinical Coder Competency Standards that had been developed by its Clinical Coder Competency Standards Working Group. During the period from May 2018 to September 2018, 19 submissions were received. Feedback revealed the proposed Clinical Coder Competency Standards were heavily skewed towards HIMAA’s Health Information Manager (HIM) Profession-entry Competency Standards (HIMAA 2017). These underpin the curricula of university degree courses in health information management and form a component of HIMAA’s educational standards for its external course accreditation of HIM-qualifying degrees. Completion of an accredited course is, in turn, pre-requisite for a graduate HIMs’ eligibility for full membership of HIMAA. In short, there are inherent problems in linking the Clinical Coder Competency Standards to the HIM Profession-entry Competency Standards.

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HIMAA, Health Information Managers, Clinical Coders and COVID-19


By mid March 2020 the Health Information Management Association of Australia, along with every other organisation in Australia and around the world, had to rethink the delivery of professional practice sessions in the context of a highly infectious pandemic. Subsequently all previously scheduled face-to-face meetings were cancelled and a schedule for the delivery of digital professional development content to members was implemented. This was done through a series of webinars with the first one being delivered on 23 April 2020.  On Friday 29 May 2020 a webinar titled ‘Challenges of managing health information in COVID-19 times’ was delivered.  This article discusses these challenges across a range of health services and various health information management tasks.This and other webinars are available to members for viewing at: : https://himaa.eventsair.com/MemberPortal/membership/members-portal/ContentPage/ContentPage?page=1 

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The role of health classifications in health information management


Formal health classifications facilitate the collection of significant quantities of health data in the form of clinical codes. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision, Australian Modification (ICD-10-AM) is used in Australia (and many countries around the world) primarily to report information about admitted patients’ diagnoses while the treatment provided to the patient is reported using the Australian Classification of Health Interventions. The Australian Refined Diagnosis Related Groups usethese clinical codes to group patients into like categories and represent another important health classification that is widely used by managers of health information in government departments, hospitals and health funds. In Australia, the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority is responsible for managing these classifications (IHPA, 2019). Health information managers (HIMs) and clinical coders (CCs) are responsible for the clinical coding of admitted patient records, thereby creating the bulk of these health data. The data are reported to state and federal government departments from where they are made available for use by multiple stakeholders, such as researchers, program managers and funding model developers. Within individual hospitals, researchers, funding managers and other stakeholders will also access these data to inform their work.

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Report on the 19th World Congress of the International Federation of Health Information Management Associations


The 19th International Federation of Health Information Management Associations (IFHIMA) Congress was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from Sunday 17 to Thursday 21 November 2019, with the major theme being ‘empowering health information management professionals through a global voice’. The congress was hosted by the Saudi Health Information Management Association with many representative attendees from countries in the region as well as representatives from Australia, United States of America (USA), Canada, England, Korea, and Indonesia to name a few.

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The Quality Conversation No. 15


While searching the Internet for an article recently, I came across an article by Google Australia’s Engineering Director, Alan Noble. His topic struck a chord in his opening line: “…in the corporate world there are few more irresistible – and dangerous – forces than inertia. On the road to success lie the carcasses of countless companies whose dying words were ‘but that’s how we’ve always done it…’” (Noble, 2017). This caught my interest, as I often puzzle over how the human services sectors can be so busy and so inert at the same time. Noble argued that, once an organisation gets to a certain size and maturity, the temptation to “stay put” in a state of inertia is strong (inertia being described as “the tendency of things to keep going at a certain velocity”). But the world around the organisation is anything but inert, and to stay relevant and thrive in a changing environment, innovation is a key element.

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