In order to help bring experiential learning to the HIM academic experience, AHIMA developed the VLab, an Internet-based, practical, participative, HIM and health information technology (HIT) work environment. Featuring multiple software applications and corresponding lab lessons, the VLab is an affordable solution for bringing health information technology software to the classroom. Launched in 2006, the VLab, has more than 400 subscribing colleges and universities and has been used by more than 10,000 students annually.
Students can access and experience state-of-the-art software like the master patient index (MPI), Electronic Health Record (EHR), encoders, electronic document management systems (EDMS), Release of Information Software (ROI) and other applications they'll regularly use in the working world. Lessons and activities designed specifically for the lab applications allow students to test their skills and decision-making ability without jeopardizing the privacy, security, or integrity of real medical records.
Useful in the traditional classroom or through distance-learning, students will have their first encounter with, or will brush up on, standard processes, identity management, identification and correction of medical records, prevention of duplicate records, and more. The Lab is essential in preparing students for their on-site experiences.
AHIMA launched its VLab, an internet-based software lab and lesson repository, in March 2006. Developed with input and contributions from software partners, educators, and HIM professionals, the lab was created to provide an affordable learning laboratory for use in colleges and universities offering degree programs in health information management. Available as a subscription service to academic institutions, the VLab provides experiential learning through simulations in health information management. Students get hands-on practice in healthcare information technologies.
Initially established with 30 pilot programs, the VLab now has more than 400 subscribing schools, and has been used by more than 10,000 students annually. Its design is usable for both distance learning and on-campus programs. System maintenance of the lab applications and user support is provided centrally by the VLab, minimizing IT resources required at the local school.
Lab lessons and instructional material are designed to illustrate fundamental concepts and principles of electronic health information management. HIM educators and practitioners contribute to the development and review of instructional materials.
As the healthcare industry continues to expand its reliance on information and communication technologies, competencies in managing electronic information resources will only become more critical for all types of healthcare professionals, and vital components for HIM education. AHIMA’s VLab is a great, real-world supplement to HIM education.
Lab applications are available via the internet, 24x7.
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Varies by vendor application and nature of problem. Most downtime occurs during scheduled maintenance windows that users and admins are notified of in advance, usually lasting only a few minutes but can last up to a few hours. Emergency maintenance issues occur very rarely, and in extreme cases but may require one or more business days to restore service.
The concept of AHIMA’s VLab is to provide colleges and universities with a single source for virtual access to a full array of core HIM technologies, along with the supporting tools and resources to allow successful and effective integration of these technologies into individual courses and lessons. The VLab will allow students to actually work with the technology they will encounter in the workplace, in an environment that closely simulates real world application.
Step 1: The school will receive orientation materials and any enrollment codes they’ve ordered, which will be ready to use immediately. They will also receive free enrollment codes for their instructors.
Step 2: Instructors requesting Admin access will also be given access to the VLab Instructors’ Engage Community, an online repository containing a library of guides and resources as well as a discussion forum where they will see notices from AHIMA as well as questions and comments posted by other current VLab instructors.
Step 3: Instructors can access the VLab materials on-demand at any time during the subscription, or can learn more about the VLab through a scheduled online training session.
Step 4: Instructors select the specific applications and activities within VLab that their students should access and complete, based on curriculum needs. All users will have access to everything VLab has to offer, so instructors should guide their students to let them know what is relevant to them at that time.
Enrollment in the VLab is open to all HIM/HIT-related organizations, including (but not limited to) universities, community colleges and approved coding programs.
Each enrollment code gives 365 days of continuous all-inclusive access to the full suite of VLab applications, resources and activities. The price for organizations purchasing for their students is $100/code (lower prices are available to those who wish to order a large amount of codes in bulk). Enrollment codes never expire until used, so no need to worry about purchasing more codes than you need at the time because any overstock can be used the following semester/year.
Schools choosing to have the student purchase access themselves can either point them to the Online Shopping Cart for Students (where the students can purchase directly from AHIMA for $110), or the school’s bookstore can order a number of codes to resell to the students using the Bookstore Order Form (the price to resellers is $110/code, with lower prices available to those who wish to order a large amount of codes in bulk).
Click on the links below for enrollment forms and pricing information:
VLab Subscription Form (Use to begin/renew organization’s VLab subscription)
VLab Enrollment Code Order Form (Use to order more enrollment codes during active subscription)
Bookstore Order Form (Use to order codes in bulk for bookstores)
Online Shopping Cart for Students (Use for students to purchase directly from AHIMA)
Please submit a Customer Support Request Form for more information.
The VLab includes a variety of critical HIM software applications. Each application is based on a commercially available product and has been customized or configured to optimize its usability for experiential learning. Instructors are provided with access to all applications and instructional materials, and can select the specific applications and activities their students will use based on their curriculum requirements. All of the lab applications are included and available with a VLab subscription. For a full list of lab applications, click here
Lab staff provides system maintenance for the applications and is available for assistance with lab setup, review of user materials (especially helpful for online programs) and general user support. The VLab is completely internet-based, requiring minimal set-up on the user’s PC, or in your school PC lab. System Requirements
The VLab can be used in the classroom or from home, and the applications are available 24 x 7 for access on your own schedule. The lab applications may provide students with their first exposure to health information software, give them the opportunity to try out new software functions they haven’t used before, or brush up on standard processes and tools for coding, identity management, deficiency management, chart analysis, and more.
Step 1: The student receives an enrollment code, either from their instructor or their bookstore. They may also purchase access directly via the Online Shopping Cart for Students.
Step 2: Log into the Learning Management System at academy.ahima.org, then go to the My Learning page.
Step 3: Input the enrollment code in the redemption box at the bottom of the page to enroll in VLab Academy; if you purchased access through the Online Shopping Cart you won’t need to do this step, VLab Academy will automatically be added to the My Learning page.
Step 4: User account are already established in the majority of the VLab applications and are accessible immediately upon completion of the individual user enrollment. There are some applications that require an additional self-registration step by the user before they can use them; in those cases step-by-step instructions are available within their specific sections in VLab Academy.
Step 5:Students should wait for further directions from the instructor (he/she will provide an assignment or other materials with login instructions) before using the VLab.
Students who need to purchase an access code for registration may use the Virtual Shopping Cart to purchase the access code online, or their school may make them available for purchase through the school bookstore. The instructor will provide information on this if your school requires purchase of the student packets.
To retrieve a MyAHIMA ID and Password, please go to Email My Password and an ID and password will be sent to the email address on file.
The VLab includes a variety of critical HIM software applications. Each application is based on a commercially available product and has been customized or configured for optimal experiential learning.
The HIM professional practice workspace is continually evolving, with new software applications emerging on a nearly-daily basis. Similarly, AHIMA’s VLab strives to maintain a robust suite of software applications which are relevant in the marketplace, actually used in the HIM professional practice workspace, and ultimately equips students with the EHR skills and competencies necessary to succeed in the healthcare industry and to compete in the global economy.
An award-winning, cloud-based EHR giving students experience in many different HIM activities, including building templates, writing macros, writing reports, adding new patients, editing patient data, scheduling patients, and generating bills, among others.
This EHR system includes simulated patient cases or charts. Activities direct students in basic EHR navigation and uses. Students can register and build their own patient cases, allowing them to explore clinical and management tools and functions in the EHR, and build knowledge and skills in clinical information systems. This system also explores:
The MPI software suite is used in patient identity management, duplicate record management and in maintaining database integrity. The database includes more than 50,000 patient demographic records, with approximately 5,000 potential duplicate sets. QuadraMed Smart ID is used for patient registration and prevention of duplicate records, while SmartMerge provides tools for duplicate management, including analysis and duplicate cleanup. Lessons explore the following topics and tools in the software:
This knowledge-based encoder software includes ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure codebooks, CPT and HCPCS codebooks, and reimbursement groupers. Students can access extensive coding and general references, such as a medical dictionary, a drug reference guide, and anatomy illustrations, and can gain familiarity with encoder software tools and the resources they provide. The package includes:
3M’s decision-based encoder software provides students with access to ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure codebooks, CPT and HCPCS codebooks, reimbursement groupers, and extensive coding and general references (a medical dictionary, a drug reference guide, and anatomy illustrations). Students gain familiarity with encoder software tools and the resources they provide. The 3M package includes:
This document imaging system provides the main chart repository for the Virtual Lab. The system includes over 300 patient encounters and provides a flexible resource available for use in coding exercises, chart analysis, general orientation to the forms and indexing in the medical record. Chart indexing makes it easy for instructors to select charts by patient type or coding category.
This HealthPort suite allows students to log and analyze release of patient information requests online. Requests and corresponding charts from the Virtual Lab chart repository are reviewed, and the student can submit their “assignments” (documents they determine can be released, based on the request) electronically to their instructor via SmartLink. Specially configured for academic use, the system and corresponding lessons provide students with exposure to key concepts in ROI.
Included is a trial copy of Tableau’s data visioning and analysis software, along with practice data sets and a training webcast developed for HIM students.
For more information about subscribing to AHIMA’s Virtual Lab please submit a Customer Support Request Form.
Below are the VLab system requirements for individual user PCs (subject to change). All of the VLab Applications are hosted and maintained by the VLab and/or its vendors.