The HIM-Interchange Subcommittee have been working hard behind the scenes to deliver the upcoming issue. Issue 2 of the HIM Interchange will be a special COVID-19 edition and will be released shortly.
Reading the articles that were selected for this issue brings back memories from 2020 when we were just starting out on the long COVID-19 journey. I had an idea that we should capture experiences during this time period and share the knowledge, not realising at the time just how long this pandemic would go on for, and the impact that it would have on everyone . Health Information Managers (HIMs) and Clinical Coders (CCs) have been at the forefront of this pandemic, particularly as we became known for our skills of adaption, data management and problem solving.
Therefore, it is exceedingly important that we capture our experiences and provide information to guide future HIMs and CCs.
The upcoming issue highlights the important roles and work that HIMs have been involved in since the pandemic began. We are very fortunate to have some excellent articles that provide a high level of insight into both experiences in the workplace and from a student perspective.
In terms of students’ experiences, it continues to be a difficult time, full of uncertainty and angst. Indeed, as Abbey Nexhip writes, no-one knew how the year was going to manifest at the commencement of 2020. Especially with the changes in working life for those workers and students suddenly having to adapt to electronic communication platforms instead of direct contact. As Harmony Drusko reflects, undertaking a final year placement in 2020 was an experience that was out of the ordinary. Reflections of placement experiences during the extensive lockdown in Victoria are also provided by health information management students Tran Nguyen and Rebecca Tran (La Trobe University).
Emma Barker provides very insightful methods of coping and resistance building strategies during the lockdown. Of particular interest is the solution generated to keep students involved and engaged in their studies through the development of ‘Communities of Practice’.
Clare Collinge presents an interesting take on the pandemic from the perspective of a CC (even coding out the challenges!). One area touched on that hit personally was the sheer amount of meetings and information being distributed. I think we all remember being overwhelmed at times.
Alisha Lucas raises key roles related to disaster management planning, and focuses on the areas of planning, particularly in relation to working from home, and key management of clinical documents and infection control. Not to mention the vital ongoing management of casemix activity and data modelling. All vital roles that HIMs can contribute to and lead in.
Chris Moser takes a personal perspective to working from home during the lockdown, with the aptly titled ‘Fuzzy slippers, bush turkeys and coded data’ while still maintaining a high level of professionalism towards data management. As Chris mentions, working from home can result in a number of challenges including additional working times and isolation.
Kevin Banh discusses the ‘Call to Arms’ for skilled health professionals to assist with the COVID surge. The skills that Kevin describes in his article can apply to all HIMs across the field and include data management, data standards, and privacy. Not to mention being able to rapidly solve problems.
A good majority of the issues and concerns raised in the articles are echoed in Jennie Shepheard’s review of the webinar titled ‘HIMAA, Health Information Managers, Clinical Coders and COVID-19’. The webinar involved a panel of four hospital-based HIMs who reviewed the challenges faced around delivery of existing services, roles of HIMs and CCs and their expertise. Similar experiences were noted during this webinar. Main topics included: workload, working from home, managing a COVID-19 surge and team meetings, and finally the importance of HIMs and CCs to the COVID-19 response.
As we go to print we are still experiencing difficult situations across Australia, with NSW, SA and Victoria in lockdown. I know that it is difficult to be away from family and friends; however, we should be proud of our contribution as a whole to the COVID-19 response in Australia. Therefore, I hope you make time to read the very interesting and insightful articles in Issue 2, 2021 of HIM-Interchange when it is released.
HIM-Interchange would also like to invite previous contributors to prior issues of the HIM-Interchange to please contact us ahead of the 10th Anniversary issue (Issue 3). We would like to include a ‘where are they now?’ approach in relation to people who have had their professional profile featured in previous issues over the last ten years. Please contact us in HIMInterchange@himaa.org.au.