Delegate Update from 2020 House of Delegates

Session 4 – Public Health, Ethics, and Health Information

If public health data is reported accurately, the COVID-19 data will be valid and trustworthy, which will allow federal state, and local health officials to safely and appropriately make decisions on opening businesses, schools, etc.

The hypothesis we discussed was – If public health data is reported accurately, the COVID-19 data will be valid and trustworthy, which will allow federal, state, and local health officials to safely and appropriately make decisions on opening businesses, schools, ect.

One of the thoughts shared about this assumption was that data has to be accurate, valid, and trustworthy so informed decisions can be made. As data stewards, HIM professionals should be at the table, driving the data. State government needs to know and understand who we are. HIM professionals need to be involved in contact tracing.

As we moved into the discussion, we looked at a question similar to those in other sessions – What can HI professionals be doing now for public health, ethics and health information? Responses were:

  • Many agreed that we need to Advocate for our profession
  • We need to Educate, educate, educate. and Provide insight/training to the C-suite and those internal/external to our organizations that are reporting or using the data so they can accurately evaluate and interpret the data.
  • Encourage/standardize electronic case reporting so the information is sent immediately in a standardized manner to our public health partners
  • When we respond to questions, we need to do so in layman terms so the consumer can understand.
  • Along the same line of thinking, we need to take advantage of opportunities to educate the general public through PSA’s and conversation on the processes in place to ensure data is accurate to further build the trust in the profession. To do this, we need some help from AHIMA – They can help share our message that data and information we report is ethical and accurate. A Standard message or template to share with the department of health, hospitals and other organizations would be helpful.

Our next question was – What are we missing? Some of the thoughts shared were

  • We are missing public trust – knowledge of what HIM professionals represent and a consistent message to dissuade the inaccuracies. Almost something like an “elevator speech”. We don’t have a consistent message – we need something like Mythbusters or SNOPES for public health data. Perhaps a mechanism through AHIMA that would provide an opportunity to rebut inaccurate information.  We need messaging about the role of HIM professionals, our integrity and that our credentials tie to our code of ethics
  • The other topic that came up was in regard to community based testing sites. We don’t know who is “behind the scenes” at these testing sites, who is in charge of data, where it goes, who has access to it, and we wonder if the integrity of the data is being compromised

Our final question was – What is the view 5 years from now? What does the future look like?

  • We hope the future has an Increased awareness of the HIM profession and better branding for the profession. We need Advocacy efforts regarding the importance of credentialed HIM professionals. These roles need to be recognized by the regulatory and accreditation organizations. We need to advocate for use of only credentialed professionals. We hope our credentials are as recognized as an MD or RN in the healthcare ecosystem. We want to be recognized as experts in all things data, revenue, coding, privacy, IT, etc.
  • HIM professionals need to be at the table for briefings and they should be included on task forces
  • It was suggested that we consider expanding the scope of our membership to include those that are working behind the scenes from a technical standpoint (application analysts, etc.).
  • We need International recognition of the need for formally trained HIM professionals and recognition as a trusted information broker.
  • Health departments and other agencies that collect data regarding population health should turn to credentialed HIM professionals for these roles to ensure data accuracy and public trust of the data.
  • We need to keep the message that Health info is human information out there, via social media, speaking about it in the community and other avenues.

Respectfully submitted,

Angela Campbell

President-Elect