Monday, August 30, 2021

The Future of Work: Prepare Yourself

by Jill Z. Choi, MBA, RHIA, CHPC

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Virtual Component State Association’s Leadership Symposium.  The theme was around resilience which is something I’m sure we can all relate to in these days of Covid.

Susan Fenton delivered an excellent presentation which described the technical and societal forces that are changing the way we work. She discussed the knowledge, skills, resources, and resilience HIM professionals will need in our toolboxes to be prepared for the future.

Consider this: Typewriters have been replaced by laptops, Encyclopedias replaced by Google, and home phones and answering machines replaced by iPhones. Technology is advancing exponentially; in fact, in a period of ten years, we can expect to be one thousand times more advanced than we are today.  How is that possible?  The trifecta:  The Internet, Big Data, and Machine Learning.

Susan discussed the projected impact on HIM Careers. Traditional HIM operations like Release of Information, Coding, and CDI are likely to be automated with the rise of advanced technologies like natural language processing, biometrics, blockchain, and advanced document analysis techniques.  I am already seeing that trend emerging with computer-assisted-coding tools and real-time nudges for specificity while a physician documents in the EMR.

You may be left wondering, well, what’s left?  It’s all about the data and our ability to manage it from a variety of perspectives. It’s about turning data into information.  How do we, as HIM professionals, adapt to this new environment? What skills do we need?

  • Novel and adaptive thinking - the ability to think through problems, even in the face of unknowns.
  • Sensemaking - creating meaning out of data (i.e. social determinants of health).
  • Computational Thinking - the ability to recognize patterns, algorithms, and abstract data.
  • Virtual Collaboration - the ability to work effectively with colleagues via virtual platforms.
  • Cross-cultural competency - working effectively with lots of people who don’t necessarily look or think like we do.

How do we get all this knowledge?

  • Basic Statistics - from community college or online courses.
  • Programming Skills like MySQL and Python Programming - there are many self-paced learning courses online from Codecademy, Google, Coursera, edX, Udacity, Datacamp, etc.
  • Information Skills - Learn how to search Google and Bing using key words, search job descriptions on websites like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Simplyhired, and familiarize yourself with tools, programming language, and topics in informatics.
  • Formal Coursework - There are many University-based certificate programs, undergraduate and graduate degrees, and massive online open courses through sites already mentioned above.

She also talked about how the way we work will continue to change.  Because of the pandemic, we’ve seen more forced automation and workers have shown that they can be just as effective, if not more so, working remotely. As companies call their employees to return to the office, we are seeing a shift as workers are demanding roles that ensure work-life balance and permanent remote options. 

Our world continues to change at faster and faster rates with no signs of slowing. Many of us have already lived through extensive changes to our profession and we’ve proven that we can adapt. It’s important that we continue to stay on top of trends in our profession and OHIMA is a great resource for that. We also have a plethora of resources at our fingertips and we don’t even have to leave home to ensure that we are ready for whatever comes our way!



About the Author 

Jill Choi, MBA, RHIA, CHPC is currently President-Elect for OHIMA FY 2021-2022.  Jill is the Director of Health Information Management, CDI, and Utilization Review at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.