Monday, July 17, 2017

AHIMA Advocacy Summit Part 3: Bigger Than Me

I’ve always want to be a part of something bigger than me, like with a project, a movement, or a cause.  When I was invited to the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) 2017 Advocacy Summit on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., I had no idea that I would be a part of the biggest project, movement, and cause I could ever imagine.  The experience was life-changing for me.  From the moment I stepped into Reagan International Airport, I knew I wasn’t in Ohio anymore.  The energy that surrounds the Capitol of the United States of America is a living and breathing entity.  There was a feeling of purpose and a drive to get things done.  There was tension mixed with excitement and hope; a hope to be a part of the democratic process that is the foundation of our great nation.

AHIMA proved to be a leader on Capitol Hill.  They provided Advocacy Summit participants, who represented AHIMA’s component state associations (CSA), with invaluable knowledge by showcasing expert speakers to prepare us to engage in meaningful conversations with our Congressmen/Congresswomen and Senators.  You see, the 21st Century Cures Act that was signed into law last year called for the advancement of interoperable electronic health systems. However, the 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act prohibits the use of appropriated funds by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “promulgate or adopt any standard for a unique identifier until legislation is enacted specifically approving the standard.”  This language has been seen as a barrier to a public and private sector alliance to expedite and measure effective patient identification and matching solutions. (In other words, the government cannot collaborate with private organizations to advance the goal of developing a national patient matching system.)  AHIMA prepared Advocacy Summit participants to enhance AHIMA’s 2017 Capitol Hill mission by equipping us to ask our elected officials to clarify and change the language so our industry could move forward with coordinating a strategy to develop sustainable patient matching methods.  A totally awesome mission!

Advocacy Summit participants were greeted by the AHIMA President, Ann Chenoweth; Lynne Thomas Gordon, AHIMA’s CEO; Mary Taylor-Blasi, AHIMA Foundation; and guided through the entire Summit by Pam Lane, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Relations, AHIMA.  Keynote speakers who provided immeasurable education included:
  • Devin McGraw, Deputy Director, Health Information Privacy, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Cora Han, Senior Attorney, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, Federal Trade Commission
  • Whitney Bowman-Zatakin, Managing Director, Flip the Clinic
  • Aneesh Chopra, President, NavHealth
  • A panel of seasoned AHIMA members who shared their experiences of past AHIMA Hill Days (as the Advocacy Summit used to be called) that included: Colleen Goethals (ILHIMA), Seth Johnson (THIMA), Susan Clark (IHIMA), and moderator, Tracy Elmer (CHIA)
  • And last, but certainly not least, Lauren Riplinger, Senior Director, Federal Relations, AHIMA
As you can see, Advocacy Participants experienced the most amazing educational sessions!  Then, we were sent out to Capitol Hill to educate and enlighten the nation’s Congressmen/Congresswomen, Senators, and/or their Legislative Staff.  There is a rich tradition of a one-of-a-kind code of etiquette when meeting with people in the Legislative Offices and it was understood that everyone is held to a high level of respect.  Time was of the essence because there was not enough time in the business day for everyone to be heard; however, each office earnestly did their best to acknowledge and hear everyone who had an appointment.

There is still so much my brain is processing from this invaluable 2017 AHIMA Advocacy Summit! AHIMA truly prepared us and encouraged us to walk out their Advocacy theme, “Inspire. Innovate. Lead.”  My experience on Capitol Hill has inspired me to believe that I can make a difference in the lives of patients everywhere by continuing to learn and grow within the HIM profession and become knowledgeable about the laws that effect the management of patient health information. AHIMA has sparked a participating spirit in me to no longer stay on the sidelines and let someone else revolutionize the manner in which patient health information is delivered to caregivers.  As a final point, each and every person who was involved in the planning of the Advocacy Summit, was a speaker or participant, or the colleagues who represented Ohio with me, was instrumental in building my confidence to seek leadership roles within the AHIMA/OHIMA organizations and my community in order to further the mission of service to others by being a good steward of all patient health information.  Truly, I will continue to find ways to be a part of something that is bigger than me.

About the Author

Krystal Phillips, RHIA, CHTS-IS is a HIM coder at OSU Veterinary Medical Center and an adjunct professor at Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio.  Krystal currently serves on the OHIMA 2017-18 Board as President-Elect, the Director of Public Good and chair of the Coding Roundtable Committee.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, thank you for your passion,persistence, and perseverance. This is as important as Obama Care! Thank God for both!