Updated on: March 17, 2016

Newly Elected 2014 AHIMA President Ascribes to 8 Key Performance Indicators for Guidance in Office

Original story posted on: October 7, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: We recently caught up with the newly elected 2014 president and chair for the American Health Information Management Association, Cassi L. Birnbaum. A resident of North County San Diego, Birnbaum was en route from Atlanta to San Diego Friday evening. She is vice president of Peak Health Solutions. In addition, Birnbaum is on the editorial board of ICD10monitor and makes frequent appearances on ”Talk Ten Tuesday.”



I10M: Congratulations on your election to such a prestigious office. What is your initial reaction to the news of the outcome?
CB: It’s such an honor and privilege to be elected by my peers of AHIMA during such a pivotal time in our health information management history, against the backdrop of health information.
I10M: How did your campaign align with AHIMA’s vision?
CB: AHIMA has setthe stage for an envisioned future state and my campaign platform was centered on consumer engagement in health information, which has been my passion and goal for the past decade.
I10M: Tell us about what you describe as “consumer engagement.”
CB: I have had the opportunity to serve and chair initiatives that have led to consumer access to health information and health information exchange activity. There are many dependencies associated with active consumer involvement and assure accurate and trusted information at the point of care, which requires active collaboration with the entire healthcare community, consumer groups, government and private entities, and payer and provider groups to achieve this vision.
I10M: What are some of the many challenges facing healthcare in America?
CB: During my campaign, I recognized and celebrated AHIMA’s 85 years of accomplishments, while recognizing the challenges and opportunities we face, from an aging workforce to assuring a place at the table for our new graduates. Also, as we work with our health IT partners to advance the state of our EHR systems, we recognize the need for solid information governance practices to assure a solid, reliable, and accurate platform to support all the healthcare initiatives. Big data, the mantra of 2012, is necessary to fuel all of the mandates associated with healthcare reform, and HIM is uniquely qualified to assist with all aspects of this initiative, from leadership todata analytics and population health management. HIM professionals are poised to lead these initiatives and utilize the domain knowledge demonstrated through our core competencies, best practices, and outstanding academic and educational programs.
I10M: You have been quite involved in AHIMA over the years.
CB: I am proud to be entering my 35th year as we count down to ICD-10 implementation, and my career started with the implementation of ICD-9-cm. I look forward to continuing the work I began as a 2010–2012 Board Member, and I am ready to join Angela Kennedy, our current president/board chair; Lynne Thomas Gordon, AHIMA’s CEO; and the 2013–2014 Board to advance the membership and association, and work with the AHIMA House of Delegates to advance the profession.
I10M: Campaigning is tough no matter what office you’re seeking. What are some of your takeaways from being on the campaign trail?
CB: The campaign enabled me to connect with members in person, via social networking channels and other venues, that I would not have had the chance to meet otherwise. I had extensive conversations with a Dubai (UAE) member who was concerned with the lack of resources to advance the practice of HIM/Coding, and I was able to dialogue with members who were concerned about the consolidation in the marketplace associated with a merger/acquisition that resulted in members losing their top leadership posts of 25 years. I also spoke to individuals who were being relocated to service centers from their acute care hospital homes, and other members who were concerned about functions that were being outsourced.  There were also concerns expressed about who is driving clinical documentation improvement (CDI) leadership in organizations, and assuring that HIM professionals are intimately involved in this critical initiative. Also, members asked me to make sure we don’t forget about medical group practices and their needs around coding and data management. I had many heartfelt conversations challenging our professionals to not stay on the sidelines, but to lead initiatives associated with clinical content redesign in the EHR, CDI, ICD-10, Meaningful Use, Privacy and Security, Data Integrity and Information Governance and Consumer Engagement. Also, there were concerns associated with member engagement in AHIMA, and the need for all HIM professionals to rise to the occasion of our envisioned state. This is also referenced in the AHIMA strategic plan.
I10M: You have a professional background in quality management. So, how can this be applied, along with any quality concepts to your new role?
CB: With my quality management background, I also believe you can’t improve what you can’t measure, and I have identified some key performance indicators (KPIs) which will serve as my personal compass to measure my own effectiveness as a leader:
  1. As a passionate member of the AHIMA Consumer Engagement Practice Council, meet AHIMA’s big audacious goal of making healthcare information available when and where you need it.
  2. Facilitate the successful transition of ICD-10 to assure our industry leadership is prepared with minimal disruption to the revenue cycle and without disruption to patient care.
  3. Assure that Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) is the center of our universe, and is sufficiently designed and implemented to support healthcare delivery, population health, research, revenue cycle, and, of course, the documentation necessary for the transition to ICD-10.
  4. Celebrate the successful transition to ICD-10 at the AHIMA Convention in San Diego—October 1! A fantastic turnout will demonstrate that we succeeded in preparing the industry.
  5. Assure that information governance is comprehensively developed and implemented in organizations.
  6. Assure that our members have the tools and resources to successfully map out their educational and career paths with heavy doses of mentorship and coaching, to ensure our members realize their respective career visions and fill the gap of resources identified as at least 6,000 new members a year projected to replace out retiring members.
  7. Fund and advance applied HIM research to test and identify best practice approaches to solving our most challenging issues areas in the key domain areas associated with the HIM profession and industry requirements.
  8. Advance the practice of Health Informatics and Information Management using AHIMA’s educational roadmap and forecasting the future needs and requirements of the industry.
I-10: What was your involvement in developing AHIMA’s 10-year strategic plan?
CB: I was proud to participate in the AHIMA strategic planning process during my board tenure. The full 10-year strategic plan is on the AHIMA website.
Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time it was published. However, due to the nature of industry changes over time we cannot guarantee its validity after the year it was published.
Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of ICD10monitor and is the executive producer and program host of Talk Ten Tuesdays.