Thursday, December 7, 2017

Alumni Highlight - Lee Wise's Publications!

At 2017 AHIMA National Convention, we had a delightful conversation with one of our past graduates during our alumni reception. During that conversation, we were reminded of how prolifically she has been contributing to the conversation through her contributions to written publications. Her name is Lee Wise (B.S. HIM '11, M.S. HIM/IT Leadership '13) and she is the Health Information Director/Privacy Officer at Andalusia Health in Andalusia, Alabama. To give you an idea of what we are talking about, she has contributed to all of the following articles in the past few years (which have all appeared in the Journal of AHIMA):  

  • Patient Registration Demographic Data Capture and Exchange White Paper - September 2017
  • HIM Prepped to Shape the Future of Population Health through HIE - April 2017
  • HIM Best Practice for Records Management at Transitions of Care - March 2016
  • Understanding How HIM is Impacting Quality on the National Level - October 2015
  • HIT Standards for HIM Practices White Paper - September 2015
  • The Expanding Role of Care Coordination - March 2015

Goodness! We are so impressed at her volume of work, and cannot wait to see what she will be working on next. Our alumni are amazing, as is their outstanding involvement and dedication to the profession. Keep an eye out for more from Lee, well done!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Alumni Profile - Robyn Stambaugh


Name: Robyn Stambaugh
Year of Graduation: 2016
Current Employer: ComforceHealth
Position: VP, HIM Services

What do you remember best about taking HIIM classes at The College of St. Scholastica?

The work was very challenging and the professors were top notch! I had such a sense of accomplishment each time we finished a class or semester given the standards set to achieve completion. I am quite grateful that expectations in each class were high because it made achieving them so much more worthwhile.

What is most rewarding about your work in HIIM? Engaging with people is by far the greatest reward for me in my work. I have been blessed in my career to be able to interact on many different levels with people as a leader, teacher, team member, coach, or mentor. Contributing to the growth or success of others is the most fulfilling aspect of my professional and personal life.  

HIIM is an ever-changing field. What do you see coming on the horizon?

Value based payment (VBP) models are a primary driving force in healthcare and will remain so in the future. High cost of care and consumer demands will continue to drive mandates for quality care that are patient centric and cost effective. To achieve this organizations must have clinical, administrative, and financial information that is trustworthy; without it optimal care is not achievable nor is long term sustainability feasible for organization. The work necessary to achieve future goals for value based healthcare delivery are perfectly aligned with our profession. I also believe data analytics along with Data and Information Governance, and Population Health initiatives will dominate the future work for HIM professionals.

HIM professionals have opportunities in many areas as a result of current and future healthcare demands and initiates.  To keep our professional seat at the table, we need to step up, and step out! Being a lifelong learner in our field is a given now, not a choice.

What one piece of advice would you offer to current students?

Take one bite out of the elephant at a time! I know that sounds simple, but it really is effective. Here’s another one that is vital, reach out to the amazing counselors that are there to serve you; they are amazing people with servant hearts.

What book are you currently reading for fun? The Pat Conroy Cookbook-Recipes and Stories of My Life. He is such a phenomenal writer and this is so much more than a cookbook!  I have become of fan of his books and the manner in which he writes.

What is your favorite travel destination? 
I absolutely love going to Chicago! Many wonderful memories from my trips to this wonderful city. It’s my practice to explore whenever I travel and Chicago always delights with its options. Take the architectural boat tour!  

Friday, October 27, 2017

October Round-Up - Building Your Network

What a month it has been for the HIIM Department: AHIMA, LaTour-Eichenwald Leadership Forum, 20th Anniversary of the M.S. HIM program, Student Advisement and Mid-Semester Break! The AHIMA national convention is always a wonderful time for faculty, students, and alumni to learn, collaborate and network. Kudos goes out to many HIM alum, staff and faculty that presented at convention on topics ranging from documentation, workflows, interoperability, informatics, privacy, and so on. Equally impressive was the wonderful networking that took place at the CSS HIIM vendor
Alumni Reception at AHIMA 2017
booth and the CSS HIIM reception. As I reflect back on our time in L.A., the most memorable moments were those spent networking with our colleagues…and maybe the food we ate while conversing about life and our profession!

Interestingly enough, networking became a common theme throughout several of our other October events as well. I started to notice that the panel of speaker at the 2017 LaTour-Eichenwald Leadership Forum continually circled back to the importance of networking with peers. This came up their life stories as well as with career advice and volunteer opportunities. The power of connection was evident between these leaders in the profession and resonated with those of us in attendance.

Along with the LaTour-Eichenwald Leadership Forum, the department is celebrating the 20th
Painting Tower Hall to celebrate 20th Anniversary of M.S. HIM
anniversary of the M.S in HIM Program. The morning following the forum, faculty, staff and alum met for breakfast on campus, toured Tower Hall with a focus on history, and rounded out the morning with a painting session of the magnificent building. We spent this time enjoying each other’s company and once again found ourselves networking through stories of life events and the advances of our program and the profession at large.

In essence networking is the design, construction and use of contacts for operational, personal and strategic purposes. It is worth giving pause to what might seem like an obvious task we do as professionals. Networking might seem like a natural event; however, my hope is that we can all take a moment to really reflect on what it truly means in the personal and professional balance of life.   

With that, I will leave you with a little Halloween data fun. Here's 15 ICD-10 Codes from your favorite horror films by Charlotte Bohnett of WebPT:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: W29.3XXA, Contact with chainsaw, initial encounter
Paranormal Activity: R44.0, Auditory hallucinations
The Shining: R44.1: Visual hallucinations
Final Destination: W31.81XA, Contact with recreational machinery, initial encounter (Think roller coaster.)
Halloween: X99.1XXA, Assault by knife, initial encounter
American Psycho: W27.0XXA, Contact with workbench tool, initial encounter (In this case, we’re talking an axe.)
An American Werewolf in London: L68.2, Localized hypertrichosis (a.k.a. werewolf syndrome)
The Blair Witch Project: Y92.828, Other wilderness area as the place of occurrence of the external cause
Carrie: F40.230, Fear of blood, and W55.49XA, Other contact with pig, initial encounter
Dracula: S11.83XA, Puncture wound without foreign body of other specified part of neck, initial encounter
The Ring: I42.8, Other cardiomyopathies (applicable to Takotsubo, or stress-induced, cardiomyopathy)
Nightmare on Elm Street: F51.5, Nightmare disorder
The Exorcist: R46.0, Very low level of personal hygiene
The Grudge: R46.1, Bizarre personal appearance
The Hills Have Eyes: F50.8, Other eating disorders, and W88.1XXA, Exposure to radioactive isotopes, initial encounter

Looking forward to our next networking opportunity!

Brooke Palkie

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Alumni Profile - Mara Daiker

Name: Mara L. Daiker (Anderson)
Year of Graduation: 2004
Current Employer: Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), Chicago, IL
Position: Senior Manager, Professional Development

What are your current job duties and how did your education at The College of St. Scholastica prepare you to be successful at those duties?

As part of the professional development team I am responsible for many of the aspects of HIMSS’s career services offerings including; certification, career development, our early careerists community, our veteran’s career services initiative, eMentoring, member advancement and our awards and scholarships program. I also have oversight over our HIMSS Approved Education Partners program. 

Prior to joining HIMSS, I spent 13 years in the industry, first in a very traditional HIM department management role and then as part of an EHR applications development and management team.  Without the background I obtained through my education at CSS in the fundamentals of healthcare and business, along with communications, the ethical and legal aspects of healthcare and the IS education that is part of the core curriculum with the HIIM program I wouldn’t have been as successful as I was in these roles. 

I walked into my first role having a pretty great handle on what I should expect and the education to be confident to sit at the table with the rest of the management team, both within HIM as well as the hospital, and share with them the knowledge I had obtained over the course of my education.  I was prepared for what might come my way and was ready to utilize the resources needed to start making a difference from the beginning.  The success that I achieved in these two roles, which I really do attribute to the preparation I had at CSS, led to my involvement first as a volunteer for HIMSS at the chapter level and subsequently now in my role as a staff member within the North America office.

What do you remember best about taking HIIM classes at The College of St. Scholastica?

The true feeling that I was where I belonged, both personally and professionally.  From day one, those involved in the HIIM program showed us the “why” behind the role and its importance in the industry.  This allowed us to really believe in what we were doing and began cultivating that passion for our field.  I would also be remiss not to mention the feeling of family that was exuded by the professors in the program, it was so welcoming.  These attributes really made all the hard work not seem so much like work!

What is most rewarding about your work in HIIM?\

Mentoring others!  Mentoring was something I was lucky enough to participate in through both my previous roles, as an “extra opportunity”.  I mentored students working on their practicums and I mentored my employees through many different situations.  Now, mentoring is just what I get to do as a large part of my job and I am so lucky.  Most of the things that I work on at HIMSS are so that students and professionals can better themselves and I get to help provide the advice and tools to help them find success in this pursuit.

What topic in HIIM do you find most interesting/inspiring?

In school I loved all things legal, compliance, etc.  For a few years after graduating, I actually considered pursuing law school so that I could merge the two areas into something pretty great!  I even purchased a LSAT review guide.  And then, life happened and I started working more closely with the clinicians who were using the EHR day-to-day.  I became engrossed in understanding more about how the clinicians could benefit (and struggle) through the work that I did day-to-day.  Learning how we could work together to develop something useful for them and better for the patient was something that I truly enjoyed.  And then to take it a step further I really enjoyed the challenge that came with understanding all that data that they were putting in and how I could find it, extract it, manipulate it and share it, producing additional useful information for them also became an exciting challenge.  So, with that said, I guess I enjoy the “informatics” part of HIIM!
HIIM is an ever-changing field. What do you see coming on the horizon?

Please, refer back to my last statement!  There is so much information hidden in all the data that is out there.  I see a continued emphasis on doing something with all of this.  There are so many great things out there right now that are coming to fruition because of all this data, for example, artificial intelligence and precision medicine.  And then, to support this, things like the technology of blockchain and the emphasis on cybersecurity.  Data is opening the door to so many other aspects to this field.

What one piece of advice would you offer to current students?

Find great resources, both in-person on paper/digital that will assist you in keeping up to speed in this rapidly changing environment.  When I was graduating, ALL the talk was focused on HIPAA and how it was changing the HIM role as we knew it, but we were also smart enough to know that HIPAA was the talk of the moment, give it a year or two and there would be something new to talk about.  In the field of HIIM, there is always something new and as HIM professionals one of the greatest things we can offer to the healthcare field is to be prepared to handle whatever comes next and be a leader ready to take on these challenges.

What are your career goals in HIM?

Just as I stated above, my main goal is to always be ready to be a leader.  I want to be able to assist others as a resource, as a mentor, as a body that can help get the job done.  Whatever it is, I just want to be ready for it.  Because of this, I place a large focus on continued professional development and lifelong learning and a focus on promoting this to all whom I come to know as the more they know the more it may benefit me and the profession as a whole
What book are you currently reading for fun? 
I just finished “When Breath Becomes Air”. It was recommended to me by one of our hospitalists/medical information officers at my past organization. It is the story about a physician who finds himself on his own medical journey and the results of what he learns by becoming the patient (and so much more). It is phenomenal, a must read!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Student Profile - Katie Johnson

Katie Johnson, RHIA

Clinical Data Analyst at IBM Watson Health
M.S Health Informatics 2019

Why did you choose The College of St. Scholastica’as HI program?

I’m working full time so the flexibility that an online program gives me was a huge draw. I also love that many of the professors are leaders in their fields and even authored the textbooks we use.

Can you briefly explain your current position and a bit about your employer?

In my current position, I work with data standardization. This involves mapping our clients’ data to the SNOMED-CT, RxNorm, and LOINC ontologies. This allows our system to understand the data and produce results for ACO, PQRS, and HEDIS quality measures.

What rising topics in HIIM do you find most interesting/inspiring?

Big data is something I find fascinating. I get to witness its challenges as well as the insights that it can give health organizations in my work every day. The idea of taking a giant mess of data and making sense of it in a way that can add true value to improve healthcare is one thing that inspired me to work toward my Health Informatics degree.

What are your goals after you earn your HIIM degree/certificate from The College of St. Scholastica?

I would love to be able to apply the things I learn to do my job even better than I can now. I hope to take on more responsibilities or perhaps a role more on the analytical side. I also plan to get my CHDA (Certified Health Data Analyst) certification from AHIMA to further demonstrate my knowledge in the field.

Offer one piece of advice to potential students considering entering a HIIM Program at The College of St. Scholastica:

I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with my classmates and professors. Don’t be afraid to reach out to ask questions and network.

Last, what book are you currently reading for fun?

I’ve been on a history kick lately, so I’m reading “All the President’s Men” by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Finding your Flex, or Warming up for HIIM

We all know the story. New or updated regulations. Ever-evolving EHR software options. New reporting structures in the workplace. Opportunities with the growth of population health, analytics, value-based care. Leading professional organizations offer more training, webinars, and conferences than ever before in an effort to keep up. Stick around any HIIM-related workplace for more than five minutes and you quickly realize that change is the only constant.

With new initiatives and roles being developed all the time, health information management and informatics professionals have a wider range of jobs to walk into than ever before. The walls that define our profession have fallen more and more quickly over time, as the field that grew from the broadly-defined but singular medical secretary role to the open landscape of hundreds of career titles before us today (see the AHIMA career map here:

Although it feels overwhelming at times to see so many options available, how can we do anything but dive in headfirst? If we embrace the turbulence of change and the vast potential at our feet, our rewards will come through increased value to our employers as we meet the expanding needs of the managing healthcare information. I suspect that, if it has not already, the word that will come to define the profession is "flexible".

Really, creating this flexibility in ourselves can be an easy thing to do. Within reason, flexibility can be achieved by saying yes as often as possible. With all the opportunities that come available as we offer our expertise in new initiatives and projects, we grow in unique ways, as with new responsibility comes the need for additional learning and expertise. Specialists in narrower roles dig in on small pieces of the puzzle, generalists oversee the entire process and ensure that everyone on the boat is rowing the same direction, and many other employees fall in on that spectrum.

In considering the impact of this flexibility, look no further than the upcoming AHIMA convention to confirm the breadth and depth of our field. Currently there are 159 exhibitors attending with representation from educational institutions, consultants, vendors, and other employers. The track list for the daily presentations includes at least 25 different options, and there are forums, pre-convention workshops and other activities before the convention even officially opens. Yes, it might be a stretch to think about traveling from a session considering the expanding HIM Workforce in the Philippines and Thailand to another on data visualization, and then on to hear about documentation and workflows related to the care of LGBT patients, but limber up as the chance is there!

The most vital takeaway in all of this is that we can truly define our own path by being flexible. Keep stretching and searching until you discover the intersection of your interests and an employer's needs. It may take time to find that corner, but it's out there somewhere!

~Eric Nordgren

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Reflections from a Caregiver

One of my life's greatest privileges has been serving as a primary caregiver and medical liaison for my loved ones.  As a family member and friend, it is an honor to have them share their vulnerable moments and to feel their trust.  As a health care professional, I find myself looking for ways the information could be clearer, the choices could be easier, institutional stress could be alleviated, and care could ultimately be more effective. In my work here at The College of St. Scholastica, I teach a class on end of life issues. Through that venue, discussions with my students and class visitors have enlightened me on how much I need to learn. In addition, I also find myself being forced to learn more as I care for my loved ones.

My 2017 began in the hospital, sleeping at the bedside of a dear friend, Cheryl, who served as my stepmom during my teenage years. I ended up as her health care proxy, and held her hand as she took her last breaths on this earth a week later. In the short week between, I served as one of her caregivers and as a facilitator of communication. One of many take-aways from this experience was how important it is to have a team that communicates effectively on the provider side, but also on the family and patient side. Cheryl had terminal cancer, and at the time of this hospitalization did not have an end-of-life plan and did not want to meet with the palliative care staff. I knew enough of the importance to gently guide her to listen to what the palliative care physician assistant (PA) had to say.  The palliative care PA was skilled enough to face Cheryl’s denial directly and continue the discussion. The PA spent the day with Cheryl, myself, and another close friend/caregiver, asking tough questions, providing a lot of tissues. In the end, practical and necessary do not resuscitate or intubate orders were signed. 

Cheryl retired from her lifelong work as a library director while she was in the hospital and just short of her 70th birthday.  We had not done extensive end-of-life planning with her because it had not seemed necessary, she was still young and the cancer struck her by surprise.  By contrast, I have been walking a different path with my father this past month. He is 81 and has been relatively healthy, yet over the last few years, my sister and I have spent a considerable amount of time talking through his end-of-life plans.  He has not had many medical needs, but it seemed important to be prepared as he started his ninth decade of life. In the past few months he has now been admitted to the hospital twice for relatively minor issues. He has had end-of-life discussions with us, and has a signed and prepared advanced directive. Upon reviewing his discharge paperwork, I was surprised to see on that the advance directive was not listed on file. It was not there during his admission, but wondered if the mistake was due to terminology used or his heightened anxiety level on admission. 

Both my dad and Cheryl have strong educational backgrounds with advanced degrees, and were avid readers. The communication challenges had nothing to do with their general literacy. Those issues were directly due to the complexity of health care, the intricacy of emotional issues, and the increased anxiety when confronted by an array of decisions and multiple members on the health care team. No matter what role you play in the health care industry, it is important to continually remind yourself of why you work in the field, and evaluate what you can do to improve care for the patient. This does not always equal life-saving action, but instead often means having discussions and incorporating individuals and their families and personal caregivers in the team. Increasing the quality of intense end-of-life situations can be all about spending more time listening and understanding the goals of the patient.

~Beth Fait