Updated on: October 25, 2021

Pandemic Created Sense of Urgency for Health Equity

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Original story posted on: October 18, 2021

Health equity is now an unavoidable issue.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Katherine Lusk, the 93rd president and chair for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), recently spoke to the online audience of Talk Ten Tuesdays, addressing key accomplishments by the group. Below is a partial summary of her remarks.

Health equity was a critical issue long before the global COVID-19 pandemic sickened nearly a quarter of a billion people worldwide, killing nearly 5 million of them.

Recognizing the newfound sense of urgency, AHIMA President Katherine Lusk says that the shift led directly to the Association publishing a health equity policy statement.

“Educating the workforce that cares for the population is key to achieving health equity,” Lusk said during her appearance on the most recent Talk Ten Tuesdays broadcast. “Our policy statement covers overcoming disparities, while addressing the educational needs of the workforce.”

Lusk said the Association partnered with the Ken Blanchard Companies to offer courses on leadership.

“I’m particularly excited about the course titled Leading People Through Change, which takes place live virtually on Oct. 29,” she said.

During her first appearance on the weekly live Internet broadcast, Lusk also noted that the Association recently published a white paper focused on data governance strategies for creating a successful social determinants of health (SDoH) program; it’s currently highlighted on the AHIMA.org homepage. She also outlined the importance of three additional new initiatives:

  • The Patient ID Now coalition, of which AHIMA is a founding member, continues to make an impact on the problem of patient misidentification. “We’re proud of the Framework for a National Strategy on Patient Identity that Patient ID Now released earlier this year,” Lusk said.
  • “Speaking of patient misidentification,” she added, “we are proud to work with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on Project US@ (pronounced Project USA), which has a goal of issuing a unified, cross-SDO, healthcare industry-wide specification for representing patient addresses.”
  • In the very near future, Lusk added, “we'll be publishing a policy statement on interoperability. In it, we’ll champion the use of data standards that support technical, functional, and semantic interoperability across healthcare.” Healthcare delivery is changing and moving to a consumer-convenient model, Lusk noted, and the new policy is expected to address the need for trusted data exchange across the industry.

Lastly, Lusk said, AHIMA continues to promote the importance of protecting and securing health information. This year the Association, which traces its origins to 1929, recently launched AHIMA dHealth™, a seal-of-approval program that helps digital health companies demonstrate how they protect patient health information.

As for Lusk, she will be succeeded in January by AHIMA’s president/chair-elect Tim J. Keough, MPA, RHIA, FAHIMA.

Mark Spivey

Mark Spivey is a national correspondent for ICDmonitor.com who has been writing on numerous topics facing the nation’s healthcare system (and federal oversight of it) for five years.

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