AHIMA traces its history back to 1928 when the American College of Surgeons established the Association of Record Librarians of North America (ARLNA) to "elevate the standards of clinical records in hospitals and other medical institutions." This farsighted recognition of the importance of medical record quality to patient care and research underlies the organization today.
Since its formation, the organization known now as AHIMA has undergone several name changes that reflect the evolution of the profession. In 1938 the Association changed its name to the American Association of Medical Record Librarians (AAMRL) for a more succinct representation of the membership. AAMRL moved forward with the creation of standards and regulations that established its members as medical record experts. When the Association became the American Medical Record Association in 1970, medical record professionals had increased their involvement in hospitals, community health centers, and to other health service facilities outside the hospital. They had also begun to play a critical role at their institutions in the administration of federal programs such as Medicare.
As the healthcare industry underwent restructuring and decision-making became increasingly driven by data, the Association changed its name in 1991 to the American Health Information Management Association. Its current name captures the expanded scope of clinical data beyond the single hospital medical record to health information comprising the entire continuum of care.
In the 21st century, HIM professionals today occupy a variety of roles, from HIM directors to privacy officers and beyond, in a variety of settings. The profession is working to address the issues that affect healthcare today, from implementing electronic health records to adopting and implementing ICD-10 clinical coding systems to contributing to emerging issues like health information exchange. AHIMA's founders couldn't foresee all the changes that the nation, the healthcare industry, and the profession would encounter, but they doubtlessly would agree that it remains poised to meet the challenges ahead.
Members, log in to the AHIMA Body of Knowledge to read about the
history of the association
and find a timeline.