The Education Committee and its Working Groups research, develop, review and maintain current competency standards for the different professional groups within the HIMAA membership. This month’s update focuses on the Health Information Manager (HIM) Professional Competency Standards, version 3 (2017) of which has been updated to v.4 (2023) following Board approval and HIMAA member/stakeholder input. These are available on the ‘Competency Standards’ page of the HIMAA website: scroll down to Health Information Manager Competency Standards (v.4): Competency Standards (himaa.org.au)
What are the Health Information Manager (HIM) Professional Competency Standards?
(a) define and consolidate the knowledge domain of the health information management profession, and
(b) inform third parties (universities, employers, and others in the healthcare system) of the knowledge and skills required of, respectively, new graduates and experienced HIMs across their professional lifespan.
The Standards are reviewed systematically to reflect emerging practices, technologies and health information-related requirements. The Standards document contains explanatory information and a matrix of standards. The matrix has three components: Profession Entry-level, Intermediate-level and Advanced-level Standards.
The HIM Profession Entry Competency Standards
- Define the knowledge and skills that new graduate HIMs require upon entering the workforce, in order to be work-ready and to function effectively. They constitute a reliable guide, for employers of graduate HIMs, to the minimum professional knowledge and skill-set that can be expected of the new graduate.
- Provide universities and their Course Co-ordinators a comprehensive framework for the curriculum design and content of health information management degrees.
- Note: The choices of teaching and learning methodologies, and the strategies for designing and delivering the university degree programs, remain the province of the educational institutions.
- Constitute the benchmark for course compliance, applied by HIMAA’s Accreditation Council when surveying curricula during the formal, external course accreditation process.
- Note: HIMAA undertakes accreditation of eligible Bachelor and profession-entry Master degrees in health information management. The course curricula must address all elements of the profession’s HIM Entry-level Competency Standards as a requirement for HIMAA course accreditation.
HIM Intermediate- and Advanced-level Competency Standards
Ongoing technological advances, and changes to the health system and work practices, necessitate the definition of minimum knowledge and skills requirements of experienced HIMs, i.e. as practice standards for application beyond profession entry-level. Individual HIMs are encouraged to engage in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and other professional learning activities to achieve the Intermediate- and Advanced-level Competency Standards that have particular relevance to their chosen specialisation, roles and career aspirations. Therefore, the Intermediate- and Advanced-level HIM Competency Standards constitute a core component of the competency framework. These sub-sets of the Standards:
- Inform employers of experienced graduate HIMs of the knowledge and skill-set that can be expected of their HIM-employees with varying degrees of professional experience.
- Guide employers of HIMs in:
- Human resource planning
- Development of HIM positions and position descriptions
- Provision of advice on career development and CPD.
- Note: The Standards are not intended to be used for measuring HIMs’ workplace performance. Such measurement tools may draw upon or refer to the Competency Standards, but fall within the policy and legislative jurisdictions governing the respective workplaces.
- Provide a comprehensive framework to assist individual HIMs:
- In planning their CPD to maintain their professional knowledge-skills currency
- In planning their CPD to support and enhance career progression
- As a guide for lifelong learning.
- Inform industrial awards
- Note: Where state-based awards link to eligibility for graduate membership of HIMAA, they connect the award directly to the member’s completion of a HIMAA-accredited university degree; in turn, course accreditation by HIMAA is dependent upon curriculum compliance with the (Entry-level) Competency Standards.
- Provide HIMAA a comprehensive framework that underpins its:
- CPD program
- Professional Credentialling Scheme
- Fellowship category of HIMAA membership.
Summary: Updates to the HIM Professional Competency Standards (v.4, 2023)
- Standard A.8E ‘Social and Cultural Awareness’
The first domain in the Standards, ‘A. Generic Attributes and Professional Skills’, contains broad, generic standards with specific foci on applications and requirements for HIMs in their professional work. Entry-level Standard A8.2E is: ‘Examine health data, incorporating sensitivity for cultural diversity’. Whilst this has not changed, the following long-needed Explanatory Note has been added:
‘Standard A8.2E Requires evidence of some of the following in the curriculum.
Context, collection, retrieval and analysis of health data and information relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Includes:
- The quality and utility of raw and processed data for determining health status and trends, and their interpretation and applications for epidemiology, research, and hospital and health service planning and funding.
Standard may be addressed via university-based tasks or supervised Professional Practice placements.
If necessary, the Course Co-ordinator should consult appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health data experts.’
The objectives underlying this amendment were:
- To assist universities when applying to HIMAA for external accreditation of their HIM degree. The Explanatory Note provides useful clarification of the Standard.
- To rectify a long-standing gap in the HIM Profession-Entry Competency Standards.
- To enable HIMAA, as the peak professional body for HIMs Australia-wide, to acknowledge the importance and extensive health-, funding- and service-related impacts of the quality of health data relating to Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and HIMs’ significant roles in this arena.
This content, including acknowledgement of relevant reporting expectations, considerations of data quality, legislation and key reports, has actually been part of the curricula of HIMAA-accredited HIM degrees for over two decades. The new Explanatory Note brings the Standard up to date.
- Standard A9. ‘Professional Practice experience and expertise’
Surprisingly, there has not previously been a Standard that accommodates Professional Practice and its critical contribution to HIM students’ learning. Professional Practice (including formal, supervised placements, hospital-based Coding Clinics and formal, assessed site visits) has always been embedded in HIM degree programs.
Professional Practice is universally considered by HIM students to be essential for their learning. From an academic perspective, it is an essential vehicle for teaching and learning as it addresses multiple intended learning outcomes. There are several other reasons for the formalisation of this requirement, one being the tendency for universities, when faced with cost pressures, to cut administrative resources for organising Professional Practice placements unless the placements are formally required for a course’s external accreditation (e.g., in this case, by HIMAA). Therefore, a new Standard has been added:
A9.1E ‘Demonstrate competency in application of theoretical discipline practice knowledges within real-world health information management professional practice settings’. The Explanatory Note outlines the long-standing practice of HIMAA-accredited HIM courses:
‘Standard A9.1E Measure: The Entry-level graduate must have completed and passed 350 (minimum) supervised hours of professional practice during the course. This may include hospital/health service- or other health sector-based supervised practice and structured field visits. Formal assessments must be attached to all categories of professional practice.’
- Domain F. Health Data Analytics
An additional knowledge domain, ‘Domain F. Health Data Analytics’ has been established. This reflects the increasingly complex and more widespread involvements of HIMs in this space. The domain incorporates Standards relating to applications and appropriate tools in health data analytics, encompassing: data acquisition; data analysis; data visualisation; and data governance. These were developed by the Health Data Analytics Competency Standards Working Group: Cameron Barnes (Vic), Wily Chan (NSW), Olu Dedeigbo (NSW), Louise Edmonds (ACT), Sharon Guo (Vic), Dr Sheree Lloyd (Qld), Alisha Lucas (Qld) and Merilyn Riley (Vic). A couple of the existing Standards in the ‘Research Methods’ domain have been moved into the Health Data Analytics domain, for consistency.
Please check out the new Health Data Analytics Standards: HIM Professional Competency Standards v_4 2023.pdf (himaa.org.au)
Professional Development Sub-Committee (PDSC)
The members of the PDSC, in conjunction with Nicole Kelly – HIMAA Events, Marketing & Communications Manager, and the HIMAA CEO, aims to introduce in 2024 some CPD webinar content relevant to the new Health Data Analytics Standards. This will be directed to all members, including those HIMs who are not recent graduates.
Dr Kerin Robinson, Chair, Education Committee.
On behalf of all members of the Education Committee, PDSC, CCWG and CDIWG.