Letter from the Editor


Welcome to Issue 3 of 2021 and to another special edition, HIM-Interchange’s tenth anniversary. Thanks to the dedication of a long list of people who have contributed their time and writing skills, all of it unpaid and in addition to their day jobs, HIM-Interchange continues to grow and evolve.

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Communication: spreading our views and learning from each other


communicated to members, reminded me that I have lived through, and experienced many of these changes over the past 60 years! During this time, I have been kept informed, not only on how health information is collected, recorded, processed and managed, but also on other developments in health information management, as well as many other topical issues. Although I have been able to attend national conferences, Branch meetings, and professional development activities, the major continuous and reliable means of communication for me, however has been via our journals. Communicating with our members in this form, started with a very simple newsletter in 1971, which was upgraded to the Australian Medical Record Journal in 1975. A major step forward occurred in 1987 with the establishment of the first editorial board. From this beginning we now have two renowned refereed journals, the Health Information Management Journal (HIMJ) the research arm of the profession, and Health Information Management Interchange (HIM-I) the professional practice journal. Both have had, and continue to have, an important role in communicating with members. Both are important in their own right.

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Happy anniversary – Ten years of HIM-Interchange


In 2011, the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) introduced a second journal for the members of the association in recognition of the need for a mechanism for HIM professionals to share their experiences and knowledge (Bonello 2011). Volume 1, Issue 1 of the professional practice journal, HIM-Interchange (HIM-I) started as pull out in the HIMAA peer reviewed Health Information Management Journal (HIMJ) in Volume 40, Issue 1. In celebration of the tenth anniversary of HIM-I, this article will provide a history of the journal from the humble beginnings as a pull out in HIMJ to the standalone, web-based journal it has become in 2021.

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The HIM-Interchange journey from inception to the ten-year anniversary


Ten years ago, Kay Bonello wrote the welcome article for the first edition of HIM-I. The creation of HIM-I began in February 2011, with the Editorial Board agreeing to separate the existing health information management journal (HIMJ) into two  entities. The enduring theme and legacy of HIM-I is the passion of health information managers, finding new horizons, sharing their knowledge and facing all challenges in an ever-changing and complex world. HIM-Interchange is the professional practice journal of our profession and showcases the differing roles in the health information management profession. 

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Supporting Clinical Coders: analysis of a free text survey question exploring practice issues reported by Australian Clinical Coders


In 2018 by the then National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) at the University of Sydney conducted a survey regarding clinical coding practices in Australia. the survey contained questions related to Clinical Coders’(CCs) level of confidence in specific clinical coding functions, management of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (CDIS) and CCs’ understanding of the level of importance for CC key performance indicators. The survey included a final open-ended question: Question 24, 'Do you have any further comments?'. The results of the survey were reported in HIM-Interchange, Volume 9, Number 1, 2019 in an article titled Supporting Clinical Coders: future proofing the integrity of our coded clinical data (Dimitropoulos 2019).  This article reports on the responses to Question 24.   S

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CDI engagement and education: tailoring stakeholder messaging


In my first months as a clinical documentation specialist (CDS), at a large clinician meeting on clinical documentation improvement (CDI), an annoyed doctor stated, ‘it’s just about the money and we already do this with coding queries, so why do we need this?’ It was a fair question on two fronts.

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Coding associated causes of death and psychosocial risk factors as part of the National Mortality Dataset


The National Mortality Dataset (NMD) is an epidemiological dataset that contains annual death registrations for a given reference period. The NMD includes demographic variables including age, sex and country of birth as well as cause of death information coded to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10). Cause of death data includes both the underlying cause of death (UCoD) and associated causes of death (ACoD). The UCoD is the disease, condition or external event that initiated the train of morbid events leading to death. The ACoDs refer to all other conditions listed on the medical certificate of cause of death by the certifier. ACoDs can include diseases that are part of the chain of events leading to death, risk factors and co-morbid chronic conditions (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020a). Understanding what ACoDs contributed to an individual’s death can provide insight into intervention points to prevent or decrease some causes of death. For example, modifiable risk factors such as smoking or hypertension can be targeted via public health campaigns, changing laws (ie. changing smoking regulations) and treatments (ie. diuretics or ACE inhibitors to manage hypertension) (Pilibosian, Wu, Aldrich and Wheeler 1999). Mental health conditions such as depression or drug and alcohol abuse are known to have a negative impact on health and are focus areas in national suicide prevention strategies (Lee and Jung 2006). Additionally knowing what drugs were present in an overdose can lead to reviews of drug prescription and use patterns (Department of Health 2017).

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My journey as a non-traditional health information manager


During the past four years, my work as a Health Information Manager (HIM) has evolved from a traditional role in a hospital setting, releasing health information and undertaking clinical coding to a data analyst role in a non-traditional setting. I found myself stepping up and utilising a broad range of skills to assimilate health information from specialist health systems, such as pathology laboratories and practitioner services, to enable quality patient care. As a data expert, I focused on collecting, transforming, interpreting, and analysing health information to support program monitoring reporting and quality improvement processes at the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR).

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Celebrating Health Information Management Awareness Week in 2021


Health Information Management Awareness Week is a feature event in the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) calendar. The event provides an opportunity to promote health information, and, as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, its critical function as ‘the heart of the healthcare system’. In 2021, it was held during the week commencing 10 May.   While the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 made planning and hosting events quite a challenge this year, many organisations and services around Australia were able to acknowledge the week in some way. This year, HIM-Interchange is showcasing Health Information Management Awareness Week in Queensland, with a spotlight on three different happenings:

  • students at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) achieving great success in the HIMAA poster competition
  • a recently appointed Health Information Manager (HIM) embracing the opportunity to organise a dual-purpose event
  • a hospital where the celebrations were taken hospital-wide to raise awareness throughout the organisation.

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