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 http://cqrcengage.com/ahima/home 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.

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