Tuesday, April 10, 2018

2018 AHIMA Advocacy Summit – Part 2

by Peggy Kilty, MA, RHIA

While the cherry trees have yet to find their foliage on these brisk spring mornings in Washington, DC, the AHIMA membership was in full bloom for the 2018 AHIMA Advocacy Summit. This annual event unites health information professionals from across the nation to support the HIM vocation and to promote our professional interests with policymakers. This year’s summit provided participants with the power of a communal voice and a platform for patient advocacy. There was an emphasis on the relevance of relationships within our HIM community and with leadership at all levels of government. The summit confirmed the importance of collaboration not only with our HIM colleagues, but also with the many agencies working to improve the policy and delivery of healthcare in these United States.

Proudly representing OHIMA with Lauree Handlon, I flew into DC the day before the March 19-20 summit to take in the geographic and political landscape. My metro ride from the airport to the stop near our hotel established that is a city that embraces public policy as much as it embraces public transportation; I looked forward to embracing both on this journey to serve the HIM profession and the OHIMA membership. 

Day 1 Preparation: Inspiring Leadership, Influencing Change 
This was my first opportunity to participate in an AHIMA event at the national level. It was exciting and empowering to be in the presence of so many passionate and influential HIM professionals!  The Summit brought together leadership from fellow CSAs, our AHIMA Board of Directors and the fine folks from AHIMA Federal Relations (Pamela Lane, MS, RHIA, CPHIMS and Lauren Riplinger, JD). At the helm, our new CEO, Dr. Wylecia Wiggs Harris (or as she stated, just “Wylecia”), welcomed us to the event in the same way we welcomed her to our organization and profession—with enthusiasm, admiration and appreciation.

After Pam Lane, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations for AHIMA, enhanced our understanding of advocacy and how to influence change with state and federal lawmakers, we were introduced to AHIMA Foundation Communication’s Specialist, Mary Taylor-Blasi who gave us an update on the progress of the AHIMA Foundation’s Apprenticeship Program. As an emerging HIM educator, this topic was of great interest to me; HIM students are constantly crossing that bridge to become HIM professionals and need mentoring to make the journey. The apprenticeship program is an excellent support structure for that bridge! The program is a result of a five-year grant funded by the US Department of Labor. Some of the grant deliverables include:
  • 1000 Registered Apprentices (As of 3/16/18 there are 125 registered apprentices)
  • 200 Registered Employers (As of 3/16/15 there are 36 registered employers)

Several apprenticeship roles have been developed for this program and include:
     •  Hospital Coder/Professional Coder
     •  Medical Coder/Biller
     •  Professional Fee Coder
     •  Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialist
     •  Data Analyst

This apprenticeship program is an exciting, educational opportunity for HIM students seeking a professional pathway and is mutually beneficial to employers filling their HIM employment gaps. For more information on this program, contact the AHIMA Foundation at apprenticeship@ahimafoundation.org.

As Lauree mentioned in her Part 1 blog post, we listened to speakers from the HHS OCR, ONC, and CMS. Genevieve Morris, MA, who serves as the Principle Deputy National Coordinator of the ONC, spoke to us about the ONC’s goal of improving interoperability through the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA). The goal of TEFCA is interoperability of electronic health information for all for as required by the 21st Century Cures Act legislation. The Draft Trusted Exchange Framework was released this past January. It consists of Part A—Princples for Trusted Exchange and Part B—Minimum Required Terms and Conditions for Trusted Exchange:


 Source: https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/draft-guide.pdf

The overarching goals of the Draft Trusted Exchange Framework are five-fold:
    1.  Build on and extend existing work done by industry
    2.  Provide a single “on-ramp” to interoperability for all
    3.  Be scalable to support the entire nation
    4.  Build a competitive market allowing all to compete on data services
    5.  Achieve long-term sustainability

The final version of TEFCA is due for publication in the Federal Registrar later this year.

Day one preparation continued with a review of our legislative branch of government. It was reminiscent of a civics course—but with a twist that I’ll call “All the Things your Civics Teacher Didn’t Tell You About Congress”. Lauren Riplinger, AHIMA’s Senior Director of Federal Relations, has served in several congressional office roles—including Chief of Staff—which allowed her to provide us with an insider’s view of the inner workings of Capitol Hill. With a clear understanding of AHIMA’s two “asks” to Congress, we were well prepared for our legislative visits scheduled for the next day.

My thoughts at the end of day one: AHIMA and its membership have strength in leadership at their core. Together, we have a powerful voice. Through our advocacy efforts, we are earning a high professional and public profile on the Hill and in our home states. We have collectively raised attention and awareness around the issues that impact our ability to serve HIM in a professional capacity. We can influence and advise makers of public policy that impact the HIM profession. But it is only when we, in the words of Wylecia, “Show up and show out” can we do those things and make a difference. 

In this photo: AHIMA 2018 Advocacy Summit participants showing up and showing out

About the Author

Peggy Kilty began her new position as Clinical Instructor, Health Information Management & Systems Division at the Ohio State University’s School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences in April of 2018. Her interests include clinical education, classification systems and student professional development. Prior to this, she worked as an adjunct instructor with Columbus State Community College’s Health Information Management & Technology Program where she taught Medical Coding and Reimbursement courses. She was previously employed by OhioHealth as an Inpatient Medical Coder. Before her career in HIM, Peggy was an instructor of undergraduate Spanish language classes at The Ohio State University. She has served nearly ten years as a Spanish language medical interpreter for various Columbus area community outreach health clinics.

Ms. Kilty recently completed post-baccalaureate studies in HIMS and earned her RHIA certification in December of 2018. She received an Associate of Applied Sciences in HIMT from Columbus State Community College and earned her RHIT certification in 2015. She received her Master of Arts degree in Latin American Literatures and Cultures in 2002 and her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies/Spanish in 1999, both from The Ohio State University. 

An active member and volunteer with the OHIMA Board of Director’s since 2014, Peggy looks forward to continuing her service to the OHIMA membership through advocacy for the profession.

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