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.

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