Advocacy: It Takes a Village
By Diann H. Smith, MS, RHIA, CHP, FAHIMA
Advocacy isn’t only for causes near and dear to our hearts, it is for ourselves, family, peers, and our beloved HIM profession. Advocacy provides us an opportunity to influence decisions that will impact change. As HIM professionals, our training to become an advocate begins when we are students in the classroom and, ideally, is reinforced during the professional practice experience in the workplace. Our professors and HIM professionals advocate for us as students while instilling in us the desire to give back to others. The AHIMA Code of Ethics calls for us to advocate for the profession, mentor students and peers, facilitate collaboration, and strengthen our professional workforce.
Power in Numbers
The old proverb “It takes a village” comes to mind when I reflect on the power of advocacy. The HIM profession is a village with 360 degrees of advocacy from a vast base with GREAT strength. One person’s voice can easily get lost, but as a village we can rise up and be heard with one consistent, powerful, and influential voice. As we prepare to tackle Capitol Hill once again and advocate for causes important to our profession and healthcare consumers during AHIMA’s annual Advocacy Symposium and Hill Day—taking place March 19 and March 20 in Washington, DC—let’s speak as one voice. Let’s share and collaborate with each other. This will influence the market and send a clear message that we are united and we are part of a strong “HIM village” that matters.
Advocate for Documentation Integrity
As recognized leaders in the administration of health information management principles, we have a reputation for advocating for accuracy, efficiency, integrity, and governance. As the world prepares to break down the physical walls of healthcare with population health, telehealth, mobile health, and concierge medicine, advocacy for the integrity of documentation is needed more than ever. HIM professionals must prepare to advocate for these changes in care delivery and how we do our work to produce reliable data.
Let’s take a step back and recognize that our advocacy goes deeper and is an integral part of our profession; it is ingrained in what we are taught, how we interact, and how we freely share our knowledge with each other and the rest of the healthcare industry. We may expertly deliver messages that are coined by our peers, but our own knowledge allows our communication to be both broad and incredibly focused in a meaningful way.
Speak with One Voice
As AHIMA members converge on Washington, DC, this March and advocate for issues that are important to our members, we must do so with the understanding that we are more influential as a group than as an individual voice. Our goal is to ensure that our legislators are apprised and educated on the top issues and concerns in our industry. AHIMA’s Washington, DC office provides an excellent summit, training, and talking points for each CSA representative. Let’s take this opportunity to speak with one voice and join the rest of the HIM village. See you in DC!
Diann H. Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president of health information management services and clinical documentation improvement at Texas Health Resources.