AHIMA’s Current Advocacy Agenda

AHIMA has a proactive advocacy agenda to advance health information management practices in support of global initiatives to improve the use and effectiveness of interoperable, standards based electronic health records across the care spectrum and used to support care delivery, quality and patient safety, research, population health and business needs.  AHIMA has identified the following top priorities central to the vision of association and critical to advance adoption of EHRs and HIT.

EHR Adoption 

Widespread adoption and use of interoperable, longitudinal, and global standards-based EHRs and PHRs is key to the provision of healthcare. The use of EHRs based on HIM best practices/standards and maintained across the continuum of care will facilitate global health information exchange to support care delivery, quality and patient safety, research, public/population health, and the legal, business and administrative needs of the organization.

To achieve this vision, AHIMA will:

  • Promote HIM as the leader in information and record management for EHRs and a key leader in advancing EHR adoption nationally.
  • Influence the national agenda and policy-setters for EHR adoption to promote adherence to HIM standards and best practices, confidentiality, privacy & security practices, and transaction and nomenclature standards/governance.
  • Develop and disseminate HIM standards for EHRs and incorporate into national and international standards for EHRs.
  • Work with Congress, federal departments and agencies to secure funding for the development and expansion of HIM academic programs to address the increasing information management needs associated with widespread adoption and maintenance of EHRs.
  • Mobilize the CSA network to advocate for EHR adoption at the state level, disseminate HIM standards and best practices, and transform the current HIM workforce.
  • Collaborate with physician practice organizations, LTPAC organizations, and government agencies to advance the adoption of EHRs which better support continuity of care and HIM standards.  

Health Information Exchange

Interoperable, standards-based electronic health records must be maintained across the continuum of care to facilitate the accurate exchange of uniform health information to support both the formation of a longitudinal health record and enable the sharing of health information to support continuity of care, support secondary data use, and achieve cost savings. 

To achieve this vision, AHIMA will:

  • Continue involvement and efforts with the HIE efforts including the NHIN and AHIMA Foundation/ONC SLHIE projects as needed.
  • Work with state HIM associations and individual volunteer leaders to encourage active involvement in HIEs in their particular local area.
  • Develop mechanism to hear back from the states on what they are doing (project)
  • Continue active involvement in standards bodies seeking to ensure uniform consistent transaction, data, and security standards across the healthcare continuum in order to facilitate true interoperability of systems and health information while also assuring appropriate confidentiality.
  • Assertively declare and define the HIM role in HIE and NHIN.

Confidentiality, Privacy, and Security of Health Information

Confidentiality, privacy, and security are essential components of AHIMA’s goals in light of consumer and government concerns related to the development and use of EHRs and HIE as well as the collection, storage, use, or reuse of healthcare information.  Coming from a recent history of HIPAA privacy and security efforts and requirements and now adding the impact of ARRA/HITECH legislation as well as state regulatory efforts, it is crucial that standards, certification requirements, regulations, and legislation be coordinated, unified, and administered to maximize the utility of health information while providing the desired protections to instill confidence in the technology and systems that will permit the goal for EHR adoption and use as well as health information exchange.

To achieve this vision, AHIMA will:

  • Improve the clarity of our CPS positions, policies and recommended practices . Priority one will be to ensure that our members, consumer groups and other key stakeholders  are cognizant  of  AHIMA CPS position.
  • Continue efforts with the federal government’s HIT Policy and Standards Committees and subsidiaries (e.g. HITSP, NIST, NCVHS, HISPC, etc.), as well as federal agencies in HHS and the FTC to insure appropriate privacy policy, security standards, and regulations.
  •  Continue our efforts with Congress and the federal government, as well as state governments (via our CSAs) to achieve uniform national healthcare confidentiality, privacy, and security laws, regulations, and practices for the protection of individual health information and identity – this will include the adoption of laws addressing inappropriate discrimination through access to protected health information or the intentional misuse of health information.
  • Work with AHIMA members and HIT vendors to ensure appropriate practices and HIT products/functionality are developed or improved to meet the confidentiality, privacy, and security needs of the industry and its consumers as well as achieve compliance with regulations.  
  • Push AHIMA CPS agenda with standards developers
  • Work to ensure that certification requirements provide for all necessary security requirements  ensure all HIT product Comply with  requirements and secure the confidentiality of the healthcare information they contain or transfer. 

Clinical Data and Documentation Integrity

The adoption of data standards and clinical data integrity practices facilitates interoperability and improves the quality and reliability of health information.  Standards-based documentation and documentation integrity practices are critical in the delivery of quality care by generating reliable information for continuity of care, quality improvement research,  public and population health, reimbursement, & other administrative purposes.  HIM must set the standards for defining, managing and integrating data and documentation in EHRs. Increased member competence in this domain is critical.

To achieve this vision, AHIMA will:

  • Continue active involvement with key industry stakeholders to pursue a variety of projects related to data use and reuse as well as uniform data collection and reporting requirements.
  • Ensure that efforts related to ICD-10 and EHR adoption progress include standards, guidelines, and technology that support the need for clinical data and documentation integrity.
  • Renew efforts and actively address the need for governance of terminologies and classifications used in the US, and official US involvement in international bodies, as well as governance in the identification of data definitions and quality measures et al.
  • Continue active involvement with various terminology standards development efforts and their adoption, integration and harmonization for interoperability. 
  • Develop a data and documentation integrity strategy that focuses on clinical documentation improvement processes to ensure accurate, reliable health record content in the EHR.

Health Information Management Workforce

The population of educated and trained health information management (HIM) professionals is declining as the need for skills in electronic health records (EHR) and health information networks (HIEs) are exponentially demanding a larger cadre of HIM professionals.  Qualified HIM professionals are essential to the planning, implementation, maintenance and use of EHRS and HIEs in this sophisticated environment. Projected HIM workforce shortages must be examined understood and this critical occupation spotlighted.

To achieve this vision, AHIMA advocates for:

  • Federal and state funding for:
    • <Research into factors impacting HIM professional and educator recruitment, education, and retention;
    • Development and expansion of HIM and informatics academic training programs;
    • Recruitment programs for the HIM profession;
    • Scholarships and loans to develop HIM faculty,  
    • Passage of and funding for appropriate HIM and health informatics workforce and training legislation
  • Reauthorization of the Title VII of the Public Health Service Act that provides funding and programs under the Health Resources and Services Administration for allied health education.

Recognition of the Health Information Management Profession

The HIM profession has existed for over 80 years, yet many in the healthcare industry, government, and public do not understand or identify the various roles, responsibilities, and impacts of the profession. Too often, adoption of HIT is seen as technology (hardware and software) acquisition, while ignoring the need for management of the  accumulation of data, that make up health information, as well as storage, use, classification, analysis, distribution, and protection (confidentiality and security) of health data. HIM professionals possess the clinical, technical, and management education, training, and experience to administer and use health information as recognized in more than 125 different job titles and employment in over 40 work settings. Besides managing health information in paper, electronic, and hybrid environments, HIM professionals are involved in the development and harmonization of electronic health information technical and vocabulary standards and practices, development of electronic health information exchange, and confidentiality and security. Still, the HIM profession remains unknown in policymaker circles of government, healthcare, and information services, often over-shadowed by information technicians or nursing professionals.  Failure to recognize the HIM profession and its role impacts efforts towards adoption and implementation of the standard EHR and HIE as well as government and industry efforts toward efficient and effective planning, implementation and management of health information systems.  While HIM professional advocacy has increased recognition, AHIMA is seeking conscious recognition of the profession’s current and future roles in healthcare.

To achieve the vision of a recognition and understanding of the HIM profession, AHIMA advocates for:

  • Active Involvement of HIM professionals in all aspects of EHR and HIE planning and development;
  • Involvement of HIM professionals in all aspect of confidentially, privacy, and security; and
  • Involvement of HIM professionals in all aspect of secondary data reporting and analysis.