It’s the Winter Solstice already. I’m sure those of you working in hospital settings are dealing with your Winter activity and strategies to cope with the increased intake, the high demands on beds and possibly ambulance ramping, and overcrowding of your Emergency Department. Amidst all of that, there is our experience relating to turnover of workforce, all disciplines, and the scarcity of qualified personnel. HIMs and clinical coders are hard to find, resulting in many different strategies being adopted by individual hospitals/local health districts and networks e.g. role substitution, remote coding, working from home. The rising pressure on personnel on the ground, so to speak, naturally has negative effects in retaining staff and our core focus: health information. Rushed staff are prone to making mistakes, taking short cuts, or missing details altogether. When you reflect upon these matters, there is, likely as not, a negative impact on robust clinical documentation whilst clinicians focus on the patient care side of things. This in turn impacts the quality of clinical coding, Casemix and associated Activity Based Funding. The exponential rise in use of technology as part of the solution sees many hospitals and service providers using electronic medical records and other software to improve the delivery of health care.
So my thoughts drifted to: are we beacons in our workplaces as HIM Professionals or are we moths of the Lepidoptera world, hidden in our workplaces, not seen, working in the dark? My reflection on this is that HIMs and Clinical Coders have a strong role to play in contributing to the significant demands the healthcare system is encountering and we need our members to be part of the advocation of our profession, no matter what role and title you have in your workplace.
Our outgoing CEO, Jae Redden, myself and local members of the Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania branches have been talking about our profession in many different forums, with particular attention on Departments of Health, to raise our profile and the workforce challenges we face. The most recent meeting in the Victorian Department of Health was attended by a diverse range of HIM-experienced personnel who were very positively received. They had strong input into the conversation relating to the value of HIMs in the workforce and how to maintain this on the workforce agenda. I have an appointment with the South Australia Health Minister next month for a similar discussion, advocating for the skills, experience and qualities for which HIMs are renowned. If you know of similar discussions in your area, do reach out to our incoming interim CEO and/or your Board.
The Board is scheduled to meet at the end of June. Sadly, this will be our last meeting with Jae who has been our CEO extraordinaire since November 2020. Many of you who have met Jae in person, or have had communication with her, will know that she is a powerhouse of action and has put our profession front and centre every day. The Board expresses their sincerest thanks to Jae for her work and for the support of our members, a role no less challenged by the constraints and restraints which we all experience in our own organisations.
As we wish Jae every success with her career in the future, we welcome Sallyanne Wissmann as interim CEO. Many of you will know Sallyanne, particularly Queensland Branch members, as an extraordinary HIM with significant experience in the health industry, as well as being a Life Member and Past President of HIMAA. Sallyanne will join us at the Board meeting as part of the transition process and will remain in this position whilst we conduct the recruitment process for this important position.
We have a jam-packed Agenda for our volunteer Directors to cover over two days. As always, we look forward to chatting with the staff at HIMAA head office.
If you have not yet registered for the upcoming IFHIMA/HIMAA Congress, hop on to the HIMAA webpage for the program and full details. Brisbane is a great destination and there is the added bonus and opportunity for international networking. Early Bird closes next month, but you might want to get your end of financial year submissions in now! It is also worth getting your membership renewal sorted by the end of June to add this as part of your tax return. Working through the HIMAA Membership Portal it has been made extremely easy to renew.