AHIMA19 Celebrated Innovation and Global Impact At the Annual Conference

By Wylecia Wiggs Harris, CEO, American Health Information Management Association.

Wylecia Wiggs Harris

At the AHIMA19: Health Data and Information Conference, leaders in health information management (HIM) shared innovations in healthcare and addressed issues affecting patient access to their health records including the privacy, accuracy and interoperability of that information.

The annual meeting for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), AHIMA19, also highlighted inspiring stories of perseverance, empowerment and shared details of AHIMA’s global leadership.

Patient advocate Doug Lindsay shared his gripping story of transitioning from a wheelchair to walking again; Alexandra Mugge, deputy chief health informatics officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), outlined the benefits of interoperability and patient access; healthcare innovators pitched their ideas to a panel of experts for a $5,000 prize; and exhibitors and industry speakers shared their spectrum of knowledge with attendees gathered from across the globe.

Nearly three thousand HIM professionals gathered for the annual conference in September, held at Chicago’s historic McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America.

Information and Inspiration

Speakers addressed clinical documentation, data ownership, patient access to their medical records, interoperability and cybersecurity. These presentations provided important insights and updates on technology to help HIM professionals continue leading the industry in improving healthcare and changing lives.

Mugge told the crowd that interoperability and greater access to medical data is integral to improving healthcare outcomes for payers, patients, and providers.

“We believe electronic data exchange is the future of healthcare, and interoperability is the foundation of value-based care,” Mugge said. “Patients should know that the way they interact with the healthcare industry is changing. Patients are no longer passive participants in their care, they now have the ability to be empowered consumers of the healthcare industry through access to data that puts them in the driver’s seat to make the best and most informed decision about their health.”

Mugge assured attendees that privacy and security safeguards would remain in place as HIM professionals help shape the landscape of interoperability.

Lindsay found his own way to improve his health, seemingly against all odds. He was bedridden and home-bound for 11 years because of a debilitating illness that forced him to drop out of college at 21 years old.

Although Lindsay’s body was limited, his mind was strong and he was determined to walk again, and to live again.

That determination led Lindsay to create a surgery for what he learned was bilateral adrenal medullary hyperplasia. He then assembled a team of experts to perform the surgery, which eventually led to his recovery.

“I believed my problem was solvable,” Lindsay said. “I could have laid in my bed all day and cried, but as a scientist, you run the experiment.”

Now, Lindsay is committed to forging a path for others suffering from rare conditions. The Lindsay Center for Collaborative Care and Innovation was founded to provide a space for answers for more patients, and hopefully, more cures.

A presentation led by Dr. Patrice Harris, MA, president of The American Medical Association (AMA) and Dr. David Barbe, MHA, past president of the AMA, shared efforts and insights on combating the opioid epidemic. Harris and Barbe spoke about the AMA’s Opioid Task Force and efforts to collaborate with state, national, and other healthcare organizations to end the epidemic.

Harris, chair of AMA’s Opioid Task Force, told attendees, “You help doctors take care of patients. Through data collection, you can capture information more efficiently. Your clinical leadership will be receptive to ideas to make it easier.”

Innovation and Influence

During AHIMA’s first-ever pitch competition, Kwaku Owusu, CEO and founder of Drugviu won a $5,000 prize for his innovative, data-based solution to a healthcare problem. Using population data, Drugviu provides usage information on medications prescribed to minority populations based on the experiences of others who have taken the medication.

“We’re going after an underserved population,” Owusu said. “Our goal is to expand the data set of medication and health experiences to include communities of color.”

Five innovators pitched their ideas to a panel of experts with prizes awarded to the first and second place recipients. Valhalla Healthcare, the first runner-up, won $2,500 for its intake solution that uses artificial intelligence to automate clinical documentation. Uppstroms took home the second runner-up award and $1,500 for its approach to using machine learning analytics to address upstream social risk for better patient outcomes.

In addition, the conference featured educational sessions ranging from privacy and security to improving the quality and integrity of data. For example, improving the collection of health data for the LGBTQ population was an important discussion during AHIMA19. Chris Grasso, MPH and associate VP for informatics and data services at The Fenway Institute spoke about the importance of data related to sexual orientation/gender in improving overall LGBTQ healthcare.

Grasso said that the collection of name and pronoun fields used in electronic health records, along with the integration of anatomical, gender and sexual orientation fields into clinical decision support systems, will help promote interoperability between health information technology systems.

AHIMA remains committed to innovation that promotes empowering patients with their health information and ensuring healthcare professionals have access to data that is accurate and secure where and when they need it. As the profession continues to make a global impact, AHIMA will continue to lead the industry and advocate for patient and healthcare professionals’ access to accurate and secure information.

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