News Feature | May 23, 2014

AHIMA Education Requirements Set To Rock The World Of HIM

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

AHIMA Education Requirements

There’s disruption coming in the world of health information management (HIM), and its name is EHR. With all advancements comes change, and the benefits of EHR have created a need for a new (and more educated) type of HIM professional. What this means for solutions providers, is not only opportunities to insert themselves as educated leaders, but also a need to possibly beef up academic credentials themselves.

Why The Need?

The adoption of EHRs are part of AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) pushing for more education, but it goes beyond that. The transition to the much more complex ICD-10 code set looms over 2015, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has brought levels of technical governance requirements the industry has never seen, and new threats to data security overall have pushed the role of information in healthcare from one of support to center stage. Medical billers and coders are going to find that their current levels of education are likely not sufficient to handle the coming changes. Stephanie Drake, MBA, CHHR, and chief talent officer at the American Osteopathic Association says, “Whether it’s the coding, which is how everyone gets paid, or being in charge of all of the records, whether it’s employee records or patient records — that’s huge. If you’re sitting there thinking ‘I’m going to sit here coding for the rest of my career,’ there’s no long-term plan on that. You need to think ‘what else can I do, what more can I do, how can I be more impactful?’”

Solutions providers are almost guaranteed that that need for a long-term plan around HIM education presents opportunities for them.

What’s Being Done?

AHIMA released their approach to the long term, Reality 2016 in 2012. The plan outlines key educational initiatives for the HIM field to accomplish by the year 2016. Those initiatives are:

  • Increasing the number of HIM professionals who hold graduate degrees
  • Creating associate degree specialty tracks
  • Investing in faculty and member development to boost skills in statistics and research methodology, data integrity, and data governance
  • Increasing the workforce with additional qualified professionals

Impact On VARs

Solutions providers are going to see several changes in the coming landscape. For example, the University of Miami, in preparation for the ICD-10 transition, invested in technology upgrades and integration with EHR systems. This meant additional requirements for its coding workforce, which they’ve beefed up to 120 coders. Decision makers are not only becoming more knowledgeable themselves, but they are also looking at coding and EHR implementations as part of the same business need.

Additionally, the increased strain on the coding market will open up an area for solutions provider partners, especially in geographic areas where coders are already in short supply.

At the very minimum, solutions providers will need to stay aware of how their client needs are changing in this area, and how the solutions they offer impact organizations beyond technology.

Additional Resources

For more information, vendors can access AHIMA’s report on the career options of HIM professionals here. They can also access HHS’ report, Health Information Technology: Standards, Implementation Specifications, and Certification Criteria for Electronic Health Record Technology, 2014 Edition; Revisions to the Permanent Certification Program for Health Information Technology here.