June 2014 | Volume 19 | No. 3
NEW SAC MEMBERS PAGE 11 | LEADERSHIP LESSONS PAGE 12 | JOIN THE BLUE BUTTON INITIATIVE PAGE 14
Partnering for the Public Good: How HIM Can Help Engage Consumers
continued on page 3
A 45-year-old female with type 2 diabetes and hypertension wears
a health-tracking wristband to gauge her daily activity and uses two
smartphone apps to monitor her blood sugar and blood pressure.
Each week, she uploads her health data into her electronic health
record (EHR) via a patient portal. She also accesses the portal to
send secure messages to her physician and to download her current
list of medications before appointments with specialists.
Although this patient is fiction, it may not be long before such
tech-savvy patients become the norm. These engaged consumers
recognize that portals and health-tracking tools give them more
control and help them make better decisions—which is exactly what
many providers, payers, government agencies, and associations like
AHIMA hope will happen as the consumer engagement movement
Collaborating to Empower Consumers
At AHIMA, advancing the public good through consumer and
patient engagement continues to be a strategic focus. One way the
Association is doing this is by forming partnerships with other
organizations to help empower consumers to take charge of their
personal health information. For example, the Association is
working with Sharecare, a health education site co-founded by TV
personality Mehmet Oz, MD, FACS, to provide consumer
content on how to access and understand health records.
The Association also is collaborating with the government’s
Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC)
to encourage more AHIMA component state associations
(CSAs) to take the “blue button pledge” to make electronic
health information more readily available to patients.
At the CSA leadership meeting in July, AHIMA plans
to launch a free toolkit that will include posters, letter
templates, and other resources to help CSA members
promote the blue button in their organizations.
HIM as Engagement Ambassador
As a complement to these initiatives, AHIMA’s Consumer
Engagement Practice Council is working on two key
initiatives this year. One is a consumer guide, which will
be published in late 2014, on using health information
to prepare for an upcoming doctor visit. The second is
a practice brief, slated to be published in the Journal of
AHIMA in early 2015, for HIM professionals on managing
patient-generated health information in the health record.
It is a timely topic, particularly as the popularity of health
tracking apps and devices rises.
“During AHIMA’s recent environmental scan, we observed an
increase in patients providing outside health information,” says Beth
Friedman, BSHA, RHIT, co-chair of the Consumer Engagement
Practice Council and president and chief content curator at Agency
Ten22 in Atlanta, GA. “Patients have always done that, but in the
electronic world, it gets more complicated.”
Friedman believes patient engagement provides an opportunity
for HIM professionals to elevate their role in their organizations.
Specifically, she believes HIM practitioners can be advocates for
patient portal enrollment and utilization. “HIM professionals can
help get patients engaged by signing them up for the portal right at
the bedside or training them to use the portal,” she says. “Patient
engagement will open new doors for us at a time when we need new
The Path to Open Access
Meaningful use (MU) has been the push that many organizations
have needed to focus on making more health information available
to patients, says Anne Tegen, MHA, RHIA, HRM, director of HIM at
Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN.