LOOKING AHEAD s
It’s a time of change and some uncertainty for AHIMA
members. What does the future hold for us? Where do we best
fit in the landscape of healthcare? The public still doesn’t know
about our profession. Will artificial intelligence replace much
of what we do? These questions and more are on the minds of
HIM professionals. They also consume the work efforts of the
staff at AHIMA, who, at the direction of the AHIMA Board of
Directors, have been tasked with finding the answers to these
questions and more in order to propel us forward into the roles
and responsibilities we are uniquely qualified to hold.
But why is this necessary? What has changed? Over just the
last five years, there have been too many changes to list. But
technology and the influx of data as an enabler and an asset
are the major disruptors. In my new role as AHIMA’s Chief
Knowledge Officer, I was hired to be the person with “insider
information.” I am a RHIA with an undergraduate and master’s
degree in HIM, more than 20 years of experience as a chief
information officer in two different healthcare systems, and a
variety of other roles in patient access, quality, utilization review,
HIM, and medical staff services. I know firsthand the multitude
of areas we are qualified for—and that we are often the best
people for the job.
Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going?
One of my main goals is to help us find a way to inform our
membership, our potential employers, and the public in general
about who we are and why they need us. I need you, as proud
members of our profession, to be thinking about the same thing.
But maybe we should remember where we came from before we
can decide where we are going.
Something happened to me recently that reminded me of exactly
where I came from. I was given the name and number of a
gentleman who called AHIMA’s CEO asking for help. The topic
was something about benefits he was applying for, and my initial
thought was I wouldn’t be able to help.
A Special Phone Call
I called the number on a Friday, got no answer, and left a
message with my work and cell phone numbers. I called again
Monday morning, and again left my contact information.
On Tuesday he returned my call. He was delightful. He was
frustrated. And he needed someone to listen. He needed to vent
about the opioid crisis and how it was impacting him. He needed
to know if he was correct in feeling that inappropriate and
inaccurate documentation by his caregiver was something that
could be fixed and how to go about that task.
Throughout the call he referenced a Journal of AHIMA article
from 2013 about EHRs and their potential dangers—quoting
parts of it as he would make a point. It was both flattering and
humbling. At a time when the answers to the questions about
our profession seem difficult, here on the phone was someone
stepping me right through what we do, why we are, and have
always been, relevant and necessary.
The Vital Role of AHIMA Members
We are the patient advocate. We are the translator. We are
the voice of reason amidst the providers, the payors, and the
administrators. We are people who take the time to listen when
no one else has the time, the patience, or the understanding.
That is our foundation. That’s what we build on. If we remember
those things, we can wisely chart the future course.
I ended our call, deeply grateful for the lesson that had been
given to me at exactly the perfect time. I am passionate and
committed to serving our profession in my role at AHIMA. I
look forward to working with our members who share the same
passion and commitment.
Make sure to return that random phone call. You never know
what lessons might be waiting on the other end of the line. v
Never Underestimate the Value of a Phone Call
Cheryl Martin, MA, RHIA, is the chief knowledge
officer at AHIMA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.