The Education Committee is HIMAA’s authoritative body on all educational standards, including to guide professional development. Its work is shared amongst the Education Committee, its sub-committee and working groups. The members of all of these committees are keen to keep you, the membership, informed as work progresses. We also welcome your involvement. This month, we are focusing on the: (a) Health Information Manager (HIM) Professional Competency Standards; and (b) the new Clinical Documentation Integrity (Competency Standards) Working Group (CDIWG).
Professional Competency Standards
HIMAA has traditionally been an exceptionally forward-thinking Association. Since 1949 when the profession was introduced in Australia at the instigation of the Australian Hospitals Association, our HIM colleagues-predecessors have established a comprehensive set of critical components that underpin a very substantial, nationwide profession. These include State and Territory Branches, a peer-reviewed scientific research journal, a professional practice journal, a code of ethics/professional practice, formal professional Competency Standards for HIMs, workplace performance standards for Clinical Coders and HIM-Coders, and an external HIM course accreditation program that ensures the quality of the accredited courses and, therefore, of all HIMs entering the profession.
The HIM Competency Standards were established in the 1990s and have been updated progressively to reflect and anticipate the healthcare sector’s needs for ongoing changes in HIMs’ knowledge and skills. The Competency Standards are the responsibility of the Education Committee. They comprise three key components:
- Profession Entry-level Competency Standards
All university courses that deliver HIM-qualifying degrees are required to ensure, for the purposes of external course accreditation by HIMAA, that their curricula comply with these Standards. The Profession Entry Standards constitute the minimum academic (knowledge and professional skills) standards for all graduate HIMs entering the professional workforce.
- Intermediate-level Competency StandardsThese tend to build on the Profession-Entry Standards and are designed for HIMs with a few years of experience in the field. They are an excellent point of reference for individual HIMs in determining their personal-professional Continuing Professional Development (CPD) needs in order to keep up-to-date. They are also designed for the managers of HIMs, including Directors of Health Information Services, senior HIMs and others, in guiding their HIM staff members’ performance and professional knowledge and skills currency, and in identifying the CPD needs of individual HIMs on their staff. There is no specific point, or number of years since graduation, where an HIM ‘reaches’ Intermediate level as this may depend on their choices in career specialisation.
- Advanced-level competency Standards
These include quite high level professional knowledge and skills. Again, they are an excellent guide for CPD needs. There is no pre-determined point in an individual HIM’s career when the Advanced Standards apply. From a professional perspective, all HIMs should aspire to reach the Advanced level knowledge and skills in context of their career aspirations and advancement.
The current Education Committee decided in 2022 to have a rolling update of the Competency Standards, rather than a major overhaul every few years. The current version was last updated in 2017:
Regular updates, even small ones, are important for the profession, currency-wise. They are also important for employers of HIMs, HIMAA’s HIM members, and universities. Updating is a massive job, and it is best done incrementally – it takes years to work through all standards and levels. For consistency, the latest version of the updated Competency Standards will be released each year.
In order to effect rolling updates of the Professional Competency Standards, the Education Committee establishes Working Groups of subject-matter experts. Current examples are the Health Data Analytics (Competency Standards) Working Group (HDAWG) convened by Cameron Barnes, and the about-to-be-established Clinical Documentation Integrity (Competency Standards) Working Group (see below).
Separately, the Clinical Coder (Performance Standards) Working Group (CCWG) is undertaking a major update of HIMAA’s 1996 Clinical Coder competency standards. The new Performance Standards will apply post-qualification, at workplace level. They are being designed to guide and assist employers, managers, workplace-based coding trainers, Clinical Coders and HIM-Coders.
Clinical Documentation Integrity (Competency Standards) Working Group (CDIWG)
The Education Committee is calling for Expressions of Interest for membership of this new Working Group. The closing date has just been extended to:
9.00am, Monday, 4 July 2022
Please see Expression of Interest (EoI) Details on the HIMAA Website
Health Information Managers have always been deeply involved in clinical documentation integrity and the standards, monitoring and auditing of health record documentation. In fact, one of the reasons for the profession’s establishment (in the USA in 1928) was to ‘elevate the standards of clinical records in hospitals, dispensaries, and other distinctly medical institutions’ (Huffman, 1972: 23). This carried over when the profession was established in Australia in 1949 (Watson 2013). It is only more recently that CDI has expanded to become closely associated with revenue via clinical coding.
The HIMAA Board of Directors and the Education Committee wish to (re-)establish small subsets of Profession Entry-, Intermediate- and Advanced-level Health Information Manager Competency Standards in clinical documentation integrity and, then, to develop competency standards for CDISs, CCs and others under the HIMAA umbrella who work in the CDI space. The Education Committee welcomes HIMs and other eligible individuals who have appropriate expertise and experience in CDI to self-nominate, via EoI, for this Working Group.
Dr Kerin Robinson
Chair, Education Committee – on behalf of all members of the Education Committee
Huffman EK (1972) Medical record management, 6th edition. Berwyn, Illinois: Physicians’ Record Company.
Watson PJ (2013) The first fifty years 1949-1999: Medical Record Librarian to Health Information Manager. A history of the medical record/health information management profession in Australia. North Ryde, New South Wales: Health Information Management Association of Australia.