Collaboration Among HIM Pros, Care Teams Can Boost Health Outcomes

Increased collaboration among health information management (HIM) professionals and other members of care delivery teams can enhance patient outcomes and reduce care costs, an article from the Journal of AHIMA says.

Across all healthcare disciplines, different professions are increasingly collaborating and learning from one another to improve healthcare. Known as interprofessional education, the practice is occurring in classrooms, the workplace, and other settings, with participants aiming to translate education into care delivery.

Interprofessional education can enable HIM professionals to share their evolving capabilities with other care team members, said authors Karima H. Lalani, MBA, RHIA, and David L. Gibbs, PhD, CPHI, CHPS, CPHIMS, CISSP.

“As the HIM profession continues to evolve with increased emphasis on information governance, data analytics, and health informatics, HIM professionals have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure professionals in other healthcare disciplines are fully aware of the capabilities of HIM,” the pair wrote.

To increase collaboration among HIM experts and other healthcare professionals, Lalani and Gibbs proposed that academic programs and workplaces use the Awareness, Integration, Creation (A-I-C) model. Providers and educators can use this approach to increase awareness of the importance of interprofessional education, identify existing opportunities, and develop new activities.

HIM experts should recognize and seize opportunities to educate other healthcare professionals on an ongoing basis, the authors said.  

“HIM professionals should strive to create awareness among other healthcare professionals of their respective roles so that the HIM department is not sidelined. Interprofessional education is especially applicable in raising awareness of HIM among other healthcare professions, and the education should take place at the staff-, management-, and upper management-level,” they stated.

HIM professionals can also engage with existing patient care teams and participate in staff training events to ensure their role is adequately represented. If interprofessional education has not yet been established at an organization, HIM experts can create educational activities in areas where they have extensive knowledge, such as the EHR.

“One opportunity to create interprofessional education activities is to host a lunchtime training session covering appropriate topics of the organization’s EHR,” the authors said. “Another opportunity is to proactively publish data quality improvement reports about the EHR and new features available in the system. HIM could publish a newsletter or create an internal company webpage to highlight research recently conducted on local EHR data.”

To enhance interprofessional education in classroom settings, the authors suggest that HIM educators seek out any existing interprofessional education opportunities within their institutions. Educators can also integrate HIM into existing activities, as well as create new interprofessional activities around HIM.

“HIM educators should begin with interprofessional education activities involving students from HIM and one other discipline to keep the logistical challenges manageable. Educators can add more disciplines to increase the collaboration and benefit over time,” Lalani and Gibbs said.  

This article adds to AHIMA’s work in expanding the role of HIM professionals. In October 2018, the Journal of AHIMA published an article that emphasized the integral role HIM experts can play in maintaining accurate hospital ratings. By working with hospitals on their data integrity plans, HIM professionals can ensure rankings accurately reflect care quality.

 “In order to grow beyond the bounds of traditional HIM roles, professionals must position themselves strategically to demonstrate their ability to positively influence healthcare organizations on a broad scale,” author Daniel Land, RHIA, CCS, wrote at the time.

“Locking arms with their organization to achieve desired rankings is a perfect example of the importance of continually scanning the healthcare landscape for ways in which HIM professionals can use their skills in new and different ways.”

With these new recommendations, HIM experts can increase their collaboration with other care team members and improve health outcomes.

“Instilling awareness of and appreciation for the various HIM roles in practice and during academic preparation will lead to better collaboration among healthcare teams and better outcomes for patients,” the authors concluded. “Integration with existing interprofessional education events, and creation of new activities are additional ways in which HIM professionals can continue to demonstrate their value and leverage their expertise.”

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