Welcome to the first issue of 2019. This issue was put together soon after the 2018 Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA)/ National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) Conference, which was held in Hobart from 31 October to 2 November 2018. The conference theme was ‘Health Information Management: Engaging the Next Generation’ and the presentations and conversations certainly inspired us for this issue of HIM-Interchange.
Congratulations to my colleagues who reported in HIM-Interchange Vol. 8 No. 1 2018 on the success of their Health Insurance Special Interest Group (SIG). I was very interested to read about the initiative and development of this professional SIG.
As a profession we have experienced many changes over the years that have transformed our working lives. Since the 1980’s we have been preparing for what many Health Information Managers (HIMs) see as their biggest challenge, the transformation from paper medical records to electronic health records (EHRs). To date, the EHR has been implemented by a number of health care facilities around the country with HIMs playing an important role in their implementation. Using their expertise in clinical documentation HIMs have worked hard during the transition to ensure the maintenance of accurate and complete personal health care data, and that strong security and privacy guidelines are maintained. However, the transformation to a fully electronic health record is still limited in many Australian hospitals.
At the commencement of the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) 70th anniversary year, HIM-Interchange is celebrating the success of the Health Information Management Awareness Week (HIM Awareness Week) which was launched as an annual event by HIMAA in 2016. In this article, Jenny Gilder, past President of the HIMAA Board, provides her insights into the genesis of the HIM Awareness Week and its significance for the profession. In addition, some of the Health Information Managers (HIMs) that have participated in the event over the past three years have shared their stories about the activities they have organised, how they found the experience, and why they thought it was important to participate.
This is the final in the series of three articles about clinical coding education in Australia, with some input also from New Zealand. The material was collected from Clinical Coders (CCs) through a questionnaire that was distributed through CC networks around the country. Details of the questionnaire were provided in the first article in the series that was published in a previous issue of HIM-Interchange (Volume 8 No.2). This article reports on questions that sought CC opinions on what is the best way to deliver CC education, what should be included in CC education and what is on their wish list. The questions have been used as headings in all the articles.
While activity-based funding (ABF) was introduced seven years ago as a way of funding Australian public hospitals, its impact on the clinical coding workforce is continuing to have professional practice implications. Shepheard (2017) provided an extensive examination of this impact in her article: How activity-based funding models impact on the clinical coding workforce. These impacts have resulted in reactive instead of strategic responses from governments and senior management in both the public and private health sectors and have placed unacceptable time pressures for quantity rather than quality clinical coding outcomes. The reactive responses are further complicated by a deficiency in the upskilling and acknowledgement of the Clinical Coder (CC) workforce to enable CCs to communicate about funding issues and documentation improvement strategies.
Final year professional practice placements (PPP) represent the capstone of the educational journey for all health information management students enrolled at La Trobe University. Students completing their final year of academic studies gain industry experience, usually within their chosen area of interest. This may be at research institutions, health information technology companies, health information services in hospitals, government organisations, screening services, clinical quality registries, community health centres and more. The placement provides students with practical experience working within the industry and allows application of university theory, under guided supervision, to existing work.
The health information management degree at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) provides a variety of opportunities for practical experience through short and long-term projects and placements. During the period of December 2017 to January 2018, I was chosen to complete an internship at Lohmann and Birkner Health Care Consulting in Berlin, Germany, that involved exploring the use of a mobile electronic medical record system. At the time of the internship, I had completed two years of my three-year bachelor degree program.
The United States Institute of Medicine once said that if home building were like healthcare, carpenters, electricians and plumbers would work from different blueprints, with very little co-ordination. I wonder what would they would make of separate quality and clinical governance frameworks? The danger of the ever increasing number of frameworks available is that their implementation, rather than point of care, dominates the agenda, and is seen as the achievement to be pursued. This can breed cognitive bias and false optimism that by having all these systems in place, care will automatically be good.