Monday, July 29, 2019

OHIMA Board President's Thoughts on AHIMA's Leadership Symposium 2019

I had the pleasure of attending my first AHIMA CSA Leadership Symposium in Chicago, Illinois on July 12-13, 2019.  This was 1½ days of networking and information.  The symposium started with Dr. Wylecia Wiggs Harris and Dr. Valerie Watzlaf providing us with AHIMA’s Transformation story: Mission, Vision and Strategy.  The goal is for AHIMA to be known globally as the House of Health Information.  In order to achieve this AHIMA’s broken system has to be revamped.  Some of the challenges that AHIMA faces are:
  • Technical Disruption
  • Increased complexity of the ecosystem and proliferation of data
  • Disruption of the HIM profession
  • Financial instability
  • Gaps in the infrastructure to support change
  • Customer service and usability challenges

Essentially, AHIMA has been a crumbling organization that needs an overhaul.  The new leadership team with the support of the CSAs and their membership will lead us in the direction in which we need to go.  This collaboration will help AHIMA to become better known outside of our industry as well as making the organization a more reliable source to its members.

There are three thought impact areas that will bring upon change.  Those areas are:
  • Integrity
  • Privacy & Security
  • Connectivity
These three areas are an immediate focus.  OHIMA will work alongside AHIMA to ensure our alignment with the transformation plans.  I strongly believe that this will be beneficial to all of us HIM professionals.  This endeavor will open AHIMA and HIM professionals up to the world.

The closing remarks by Dr. Wiggs Harris were “Safeguard Your Personal Brand.”  That is what we as HIM professionals need to do. We must embrace the upcoming changes and make sure we make ourselves as marketable as possible in this ever-changing field.

About the Author 

Tonya L. Bates, RHIA is the currently Board President of the OHIMA FY 2020-21 Board of Directors.  She can be reached at

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Are You Ready to Put the Past Behind and Focus on The Future?

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) held its annual Leadership Symposium on July 12-13, 2019. The symposium was an incredible learning experience and engagement opportunity for me as well as for my colleagues. It was amazing to hear about AHIMA’S strategic direction, the healthcare industry and how critical of a part that we as Health Information Professionals play and innovative ideas within the HIM profession. 

I attended the State and Federal Advocacy Overview breakout session presented by Lesley Kadlec, MA, RHIA, CHDA and Lauren Riplinger, JD. This was a panel discussion of professionals who represented Tennessee and Florida. They shared their true feelings of not wanting to be an advocate but accepting the responsibility and falling in love with the work. The goal of advocating in our profession is to make sure our voice is heard regarding issues that are important to us. The ladies also expressed how important the Legislative Aides are and that they bridge the gap between us and either the state representative or senator.

I also attended the Listening Session that was facilitated by Valerie Watzlaf, PhD, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA and Shawn Wells, RHIT, CHDA. The session had some intense moments when the discussion of why there was only one person selected for President-Elect as well as the criteria for write in candidates. There were also members that felt that the new vision was rolled out to slowly. Overall, the majority felt that we are head down the right path and want to be a part of the new strategy. 

The most impressive part of the symposium was the presentation by Wylecia Wiggs Harris PhD, Certified Association Executive  and AHIMA’S CEO and Valerie Watzlaf discussing AHIMA’s Transformation Story. The ladies discussed the recognition that AHIMA was in an unacceptable state of decline and that it would need to overcome internal challenges and external disruptors to begin transformation and greater relevance and impact. AHIMA’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan was shared with us, which outlines the steps AHIMA will take to move toward future growth and relevance. The belief is with change we will see the membership grow as well as becoming welcomed by new audiences. If this doesn’t happen, the full value of AHIMA and its members won’t be recognized by the ecosystem, credentials are devalued, our reputation is weakened, and we will suffer a loss of market share. What our members have to understand is that the problems that we have will not be fixed overnight. It will take time and sustained energy and urgency as well as unwavering focus on the vision. Wylecia and Valerie expressed how we need to model vulnerability as a leadership quality and strength. The way  forward will be the strategic planning that was laid out which involves alignment, deliberate choices, adaptive flexibility and brand differentiation. They expressed this vision with transparency and sincerity and I am on board!

The future role for AHIMA is that it will be an organization that delivers an unparalleled experience for it audiences and partners with industry leaders to achieve its vision. This will require strong partnerships among members, staff and external audiences and organizations. This also will include advancing the way accurate quality information is created, stored, protected, accessed and use to improve care at all touchpoints across the health care field. 

Will you be able to put the past behind and focus on the future? Based on this Leadership Symposium, I can and I will!

About the Author 

Alonzo Blackwell, RHIA is the currently a 1st Year Director on the OHIMA FY 2020-21 Board of Directors, in charge of the Privacy & Security strategy.  Alonzo is a Manager of Health Information Management at Metro Health System in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

How to Advance Your State, Federal and Regulatory Advocacy Strategy

I had the privilege to attend the CSA Leadership Symposium in Chicago this July with several of the OHIMA board members. This conference which focuses on strategic direction and leadership in the ever evolving HIM profession is a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect on what it truly means to lead. One important avenue of being an HIM leader is advocacy. Advocacy can be defined as an activity by an individual or group which aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. I appreciate that the definition includes both individual and group because that means we as HIM professionals have a two-fold opportunity to make a difference.

During the advocacy breakout session, it was wonderful to hear what other CSAs are doing in the realm of advocacy. I found that OHIMA aligned with much of what other CSAs are doing such as having an advocacy director on the board, being a member of CQ State Track, implementing a state advocacy day in the fall every other year, and sending members of the board to AHIMA’s annual advocacy summit in Washington D.C each spring. In addition I got some great ideas for things I personally would like to be more educated on as well as items that I feel OHIMA and the Executive Board should think about exploring over the next year. One idea that the state of Oklahoma has been successful at implementing is coffee talks with state representatives and congressmen. These brief and informal meetings discuss what we do and why it is important as well as any current events.

At the individual level, I encourage you to visit AHIMA’s Advocacy Action Center at to find up to date information about AHIMA’s advocacy efforts before Congress and the federal agencies. Subscribe to AHIMA’s advocacy email list to receive grass-roots action alerts and discover what you need to know on Election Day in the state of Ohio. In order to be as educated as possible research state legislature including who holds leadership positions and when the state legislature is in session. This will help you decipher state legislative priorities and the political climate in which bills are considered. Lastly, volunteer for AHIMA’s advocacy and policy council which will allow you to be a subject matter expert on federal legislation and proposed regulations as well as public policy positions that impact HIM professionals.

At the OHIMA and board level, I am hopeful that we can establish tighter connections by inviting state officials to speak at our annual meeting on a legislative or regulatory topic. Having consistent face to face contact is invaluable. Another item that I am already investigating is identifying a liaison to the board at the Ohio Hospital Association. I feel this relationship will foster a partnership when policy interests align.

To sum up, it is imperative we as HIM professional have our eyes peeled, ears to the ground, and be the voice for the patient’s privacy and health information. Through education and networking we can ensure we always have a seat at the advocacy table.

About the Author 

Kristin Nelson, MS, RHIA is the currently President-Elect on the OHIMA FY 2020-21 Board of Directors, in charge of Membership Engagement strategy.  Kristin is a Clinical Instructor at The Ohio State University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences HIMS Division.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

OHIMA FY19-20 Board President Message

Hello!!  Welcome to the 2019-2020 Ohio Health Information Management Association (OHIMA) New Year!  The OHIMA Board of Directors is preparing for another exciting year. 

The continued success of OHIMA is partly the result of the phenomenal volunteers that serve on the Board.  Each Board member brings to the table a great deal of knowledge, talent, skills and passion for Health Information Management as a whole.  The second aspect of our success is you as a member!  Your support, feedback, encouragement and involvement with OHIMA helps to continue to make us one of, if not the best Component State Association.  It is very important to us that you let us know how we’re doing and how we can do even better.  Communication is the key to our continued success.

The Board members are working very hard to bring you another great year.  Each Board member brings a unique skill and mindset that will be noticeable in our endeavors as an organization.

I am looking forward to this upcoming year.  I am honored to serve as your President for the 2019-2020 Association year.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  ~Maya Angelou


Tonya L. Bates, RHIA 

OHIMA Board President FY 2019-20

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Treating Fractures and Dislocations

“Spotlight on CPT” this month will focus on treatment of fractures/dislocations.  The CPT manual provides two areas of notes that can assist coding professionals when coding treatment of fractures or dislocations.  The first of these notes appears at the beginning of the Musculoskeletal System section of codes.  The other is found later in the section, just before the codes related to casts and strappings, which begins at 29000.

The first set of notes explains the difference between open and closed treatment.  Closed treatment means that the fracture did not require an incision for viewing or treatment.  Closed treatment occurs with or without manipulation or traction.  On the other hand, open treatment means that an incision occurs either at the fracture site or away from the fracture in order to visualize and treat.  Internal fixation or intramedullary nails or rods may be utilized to repair fractures in an open manner.   

Another type of treatment is percutaneous fixation, where imaging is used to visualize the fracture and then fixation is placed.  This differs from the other types of fixation: either internal (plates, rods, pins) or external (an external fixator with pins and device). 

Coding professionals need to recognize that the method of fracture repair (open, closed, or percutaneous) does not necessarily correlate with the type of fracture (open, closed).  For example, an closed Colles’ fracture of the left wrist may require an open reduction and internal fixation.
Manipulation is synonymous with reduction when discussing fractures and dislocations.  Either are attempts to restore proper alignment.  

Casts and strapping codes present challenges for coding professionals.  The first thing to remember is that if any restorative treatment is performed for the injury, the provider will code only for the restorative treatment (i.e. reduction, external fixation, etc.) rather than assign a cast/strap code. 
Casts or strapping should be coded when:

  • It is a replacement procedure
  • It is an initial service if no restorative treatment takes place 
    • Provider only provides initial care (ER doctor)
If a provider performs both the initial cast and then follow up care, they must use a treatment code rather than a cast/strapping code since again these the first cast/strap/splint is included in the treatment code.

If we keep in mind that casts/strappings are considered part of fracture/dislocation care, it makes it easier to decide when to assign those codes. 
Now, light has been shed on coding fracture/dislocation treatment.

About the Author 

Dianna Foley, RHIA, CHPS, CCS  is OHIMA's Coding Education Coordinator. Dianna has been an HIM professional for 20 years. She progressed through the ranks of coder, department supervisor, and department director, to her current role as a coding consultant. 

She recently served as the program director for Medical Coding and HIT at Eastern Gateway Community College. Dianna earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati subsequently achieving her RHIA, CHPS, and CCS certifications. She is an AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer and a a presenter at regional HIM meetings and the OHIMA Annual Meeting.