AHIMA Chief Shares Vision in Talk Ten Tuesdays Appearance

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Original story posted on: March 18, 2019

Change was a key topic cited by the head of the national HIM advocacy organization.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Valerie Watzlaf, 2019 American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) President and Chair, was a guest on the most recent Talk Ten Tuesdays broadcast. Here are her remarks from that broadcast.

Thank you so much, Chuck, and it is a pleasure to be here with you today. 

I am so excited to be the 2019 President and Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Health Information Management Association, or AHIMA, during this time of change and transformation. 

As you know, there are constant changes in healthcare technology, payment and business models, and consumer engagement. AHIMA’s vision for the future is to focus on new areas, expand our footprint, and better serve our members, today and tomorrow. Our goal is to transform, renew, and innovate. 

We are referring to this process of transformation by using a series of pivots. Our first pivot is to focus on current strengths while exploring areas for growth. That means that we are establishing a culture where we develop more innovative products and services for our members and future members. It means we are developing areas where we are already strong.

At the same time, we are pivoting for the future by laying the foundation for innovation and greater impact within the healthcare ecosystem. To get there, we’re using what we call a “bridge strategy.” It’s a way for us to get from where we are now to our long-term strategy.

We could not perform this transformation without the strong leadership, support, and voice of our members, stakeholders, and other constituents that have provided important feedback that will help us craft a new mission, vision, and values for AHIMA that will come out in the spring.  We will also build a three-year strategic plan from 2020 to 2023 in which our members and other stakeholders will continue to provide input and a voice to continue on this road of transformation, renewal, and innovation. We plan to have the strategic plan out to the public by the summer. With the strong leadership of our CEO, Dr. Wylecia Wiggs Harris, and her entire leadership team, we are in excellent hands to achieve these transformational changes. Other transformational change will include increased partnerships, audience-focused solutions, and the ability to investigate and prioritize new business models.

We are also gearing up for our AHIMA Advocacy Summit, which will take place March 25-26 in Washington, D.C. We will be hearing from the Office for Civil Rights and how it seeks to modernize HIPAA to drive value-based care. We will also hear from the Office of the National Coordinator and how it plans to improve the interoperability of health information. We will receive an update on ICD-11’s development process and implementation considerations, and learn about the OpenNotes movement and how the sharing of documented notes with patients can improve their quality of care. We will also be advocating for many of these issues when we travel to Capitol Hill to meet with Congress. Around this same time, we will be celebrating our 30th annual Health Information Professionals week from March 24-30. HIP Week is a great opportunity for HIM professionals to showcase the benefits of their profession, and collectively work to lead the way in health information management.

My goal for 2019 is to ensure that our members’ voices are heard through our mission, our vision, our values, and future strategic planning. We could not do this without their strong voices, and on behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank our members for their continued support. This is a very exciting time to be an HIM professional and member of AHIMA! As we gaze into the future, we may want to take to heart the words of Oprah Winfrey when she said, “step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.”

Let’s take that step today. Thank you very much. 

Valerie J. Watzlaf, PhD, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA

Dr. Watzlaf is vice chair of education and associate professor within the Department of Health Information Management (HIM) in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) at the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds a secondary appointment in the Graduate School of Public Health. In those capacities, she teaches and performs research in the areas of HIM, epidemiology, quality improvement, statistics, and long-term care.

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