Tuesday, October 27, 2020

AHIMA House of Delegates 2020 Meeting, Synopsis on Strategic Pathfinder Session Telehealth

by Kristin Nelson, MS, RHIA

AHIMA held its 74th and first ever virtual House of Delegates (HoD) meeting on Saturday October 17th, 2020.  As part of this all day event, Delegates were broken out into six pre-selected strategic pathfinder groups (Taking the Lead in Data Governance, The Future of Patient Matching and Identification, The Role of the HI Professional in Shaping Health Equity, Public Health, Ethics and Health Information, Revenue Cycle Challenges for Health Information, and Telehealth in the Future).

AHIMA Strategy as a baseline, Delegates were asked to react to assumptions on the future of these health information topics and help inform AHIMA’s future through management of health information. The purpose of the sessions are to:

       Expand field awareness and understanding of the operational realities faced by health information professionals as they seek to address each topic

       Apply newly learned material to a new situation

       Analyze data to build connections among ideas

       Support content which furthers AHIMA’s mission, vision, and core purpose.

I attended the strategic pathfinder session, Telehealth in the Future.  The two hypothesis presented to this group were:

1.       If the COVID pandemic is eradicated in 2021, telehealth will continue to accelerate.

2.       If the COVID pandemic is eradicated or not eradicated in 2021, the adoption rate of telehealth will remain consistent with the rate seen at the end of 2020.


Based off feedback from colleagues in the profession the group initially felt the first hypothesis to be the most true because of the convenience and ease of access. Participants mentioned there is now access to specialists and providers that patients may not have had previously.  One attendee told a personal story of how Telehealth saved her mom’s life by allowing her to have access to the specialist she needed to effectively treat her condition. Some even pointed out the potential for documentation to be richer due to recorded visits. However, after further discussion, the second hypothesis became the most popular choice. The shift in numbers was a direct result of items such as lack of access in rural areas, trust in technology, reimbursement concerns, and the fact that not all conditions can be adequately treated through telehealth. The group agreed that in order to advance Telehealth in the future, HIM professionals must have a seat at the table to assist with creating standards for documentation, patient identity, and patient privacy.

About the Author 

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