AHIMA's Remarks Delivered at HHS Secretarial Summit on Health Information Technology

Transcript of remarks delivered by Linda Kloss, RHIA, CAE, Executive Vice President and CEO, American Health Information Management Association

Reactor Panel-Unifying the Industry
HHS Secretarial Summit on Health Information Technology
Washington, DC
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

On behalf of the 48,000 members of the American Health Information Management Association, I congratulate Secretary Thompson for his leadership on this important and urgently needed agenda for change.   I congratulate and thank Dr. Brailer for the insightful strategic direction that he has set forth today.

Both have challenged every corner of the private sector to lead change in their respective areas of expertise and on behalf of AHIMA's Board of Directors and members, I assure you that we are doing just that…leading change in our area of expertise, the effective management of health data and medical records.

But it takes more than each of us working on our own. It takes effective coordination and collaboration across all stakeholders and associations. Initiatives like Connecting for Health and the EHR Collaborative have already shown that private sector collaboration is a powerful force for change.

AHIMA was founded in 1928 with encouragement from the American College of Surgeons to improve and standardize medical records.   And three key principles have guided our mission ever since:   the availability of accurate information, the public's right to privacy, and ethical information management practices.

These principles remind us that the strategic healthcare information technology agenda is really about the information, its accuracy, its availability and its usefulness. How we design, implement and operate each component of a national infrastructure must be guided by these principles.

AHIMA's e-HIM â„¢ (electronic-health information management) initiative has three primary goals:

1. Accelerate the migration from paper to an electronic health information infrastructure

2. Reinvent how institutional and personal health information and records are managed, and

3. Deliver measurable cost and quality results from improved information management.

Through this e-HIM initiative, AHIMA is developing practice standards to help all members of the healthcare industry address the numerous challenges of migrating from paper, to hybrid to digital records management. Through case studies and best practice guidelines, we are chronicling and sharing knowledge about work process improvements, implementation techniques and new information management practices in all types of care settings.  

On our own and in collaboration with others, we are working to define data sets and data standards so the data are as interoperable as the technologies and so information integrity becomes a core value for all our efforts. We are also working to support adoption of SNOMED-CT and modernize the classification systems used to group clinical concepts in the US.

Most importantly, we are focused on information management workforce needs and workforce education-both in preparing information management workers for the world of e-HIM and supporting current practitioners as they gain new competencies.  

In closing, for AHIMA, there is no more important agenda than improving the quality and usefulness of healthcare data. We will do all we can on our own and in partnership with others to realize the vision of improved health and health care through quality information.