This short article is about one of the Queensland University of Technology Bachelor of Health Information Management graduates.
Kelesita Mataitoga was a recipient of an Australian Award scholarship (Australia Awards Scholarships | Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (dfat.gov.au)) allowing her to study HIM in Australia
What are your background and interests and how did these lead to your enrolment in Bachelor of HIM?
My name is Kelesita L Mataitoga, an I-Taukei descendant from Fiji. Before I went to QUT to study HIM, I worked in the Ministry of Health and Medical Services as a Statistical Officer for more than 15 years and was responsible for coding causes of death. Throughout these years, health information became a part of me, and my colleagues use to call me the ‘death lady’ with mortality statistics as my ‘baby’.
Attending workshops and conferences on data quality raised my concern about the quality of mortality statistics in Fiji. Before now, as far as I can remember, there was no audit done on mortality data. Everything that I provided was accepted to be complete, accurate and reliable by users in the country. This was the main reason for me wanting to pursue further studies in area of health information.
If you have graduated, when was that? are you currently working in an HIM type position? If so, what are you doing?
I completed my HIM study in January 2022. Currently I am working as a Health Information Officer/ Clinical Coder with the Fiji Program Support Facility (Health Programs) based at the Data Analysis and Management Unit (DAMU) at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. The Fiji Program Support Facility is an Australian Aid initiative, designed to support the Government of Fiji in the health, education, governance, and emergency preparedness and response sectors, as well as administering the Australia Awards in Fiji and Tuvalu. My role is mainly assisting the DAMU team in improving the quality of health information. This includes conducting in-house training on ICD-10-AM morbidity coding and ICD-10 mortality coding for the team and for hospital-based Clinical Coders, assisting the team in facilitating the cause of death certification training for doctors and conducting audits on morbidity and mortality data.
What did you enjoy most about the degree?
I mainly enjoyed the support and friendliness from the course academic team and the friendships I made with my HIM colleagues. The support from the Australian Awards staff at QUT was superb. The course content has prepared me well, improving my competency levels and skills in identifying information gaps and problems and finding solutions to address the issues identified. These has made me enjoy my work here in Fiji.
How did studying the HIM degree help you with your current role?
I am now able to confidently share my knowledge and skills with the staff of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. Some of the activities that I have conducted are:
- training with two new Clinical Coders at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH), the biggest hospital in Fiji. The training ran for 4 weeks (4 hours a day) covering all the chapters in ICD-10-AM. I used the workbook from my QUT coding units, which included exercises, to train the 2 new staff and I spent 2 days with them coding from the records in the hospital.
- audit on mortality data and presentation of the results to the doctors during the cause of death certification training.
- development of 2 audit tools for the discharge summary sheet submitted to DAMU every month. One of the tools is to verify the completeness of the documentation on the form and the other one is to verify the accuracy of the codes assigned on the form compared to the codes assigned while going through the record.
- verifying 2020 morbidity data, including identifying duplicate records and coding errors.
Where do you see your HIM career taking you in the future?
At the moment, as one of the very few qualified HIMs in the Pacific region, I look at myself as the one responsible for improving the quality of health information in Fiji and am looking forward in helping out other Pacific Island countries in improving their health data. I would love to pursue further studies in HIM in the future.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would like to acknowledge the Australian Awards Scholarship for giving me the opportunity to further my studies in Australia especially at QUT. This was one of my dreams to go and study overseas. Thank you for having faith in me.
Secondly, acknowledging the course coordinator and academic team and the QUT Australian Awards staff for their unwavering support throughout my study period at QUT. Even though I was away from my family, they were always there checking on my progress. I enjoyed every moment I spent as a student at QUT, am an now a proud alumnus.
Lastly, I’d like to share that once I returned to Fiji after completing my studies, I did not apply for a job, it was the organisations running after me to work with them. I was at home when I started receiving calls and receiving emails from various places and I had to choose where I wanted to work. Before the study, it was hard to be recognised compared to my experiences on my return and I give credit to Australian Awards and QUT for that.