Monday, November 23, 2015

AMIA, Student Research, and Thanksgiving

Ryan Sandefer
HIIM Chair, Assistant Professor
After attending the American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium last week in San Francisco, I have two big takeaways. First, there was a major focus on data quality. With the rapid implementation of electronic health record systems, there continues to be issues related to the quality of the data and its impact on care delivery, research, and other uses. The relationship between these data quality issues and the need for HIIM professionals with the ability to improve data can’t be understated. 

Second, I continue to be impressed with the quality of CSS HIIM student research. Jean Scott, current CSS MS Health Informatics student, conducted a presentation regarding the impact of technology downtime in healthcare settings at the AMIA Annual Symposium. Jean provided multiple examples regarding the impact of technology at her current place of employment, and I was extremely impressed by her discussion about the analysis of each example and how the organization has responded to ensure that the risks are mitigated moving forward. 

Jean Scott presenting at AMIA Annual Symposium
It is always great to connect with students. Jean’s presentation showcased the challenges confronting the issue of data quality within electronic health record applications, yet also reflected the engagement of current students in working toward addressing it. 

Finally, I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for our engaged group of students, alumni, and friends. I wish you all the best.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

CSS, MOOCs, CEUs, and….OMG!

There has been an extreme amount of hype regarding the development and offering of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in the higher education marketplace. The New York Times even called the year 2012 “The Year of the MOOC” as a way of capturing the intense interest, hope, and anxiety circulating about how these course offerings would ultimately impact traditional higher education institutions. While much of the hype around MOOCs — free, online courses on subjects ranging from Plato to Placebos — has waned, the courses continue to be offered in new and innovative ways. 

Ryan Sandefer
HIIM Chair, Assistant Professor
The College of St. Scholastica has been offering MOOCs for several years. While our courses do not attract the same number of students as other MOOCs (we average around 2,000 registrants per course as opposed to those that enroll hundreds of thousands of students), we have found a niche in the MOOC arena. The College offers MOOCs focused on very specific topic areas that are tied to professional development and credential maintenance. We even provide continuing education units (CEUs) for completing some of our MOOCs. Interestingly, we’ve found that by engaging professionals on topic areas that are timely and relevant to their professional roles and have been highlighted as needs by their professional associations, the participation and completion rates for our MOOCs are nearly twice the national average (approximately 18% of individuals who register for a CSS HIIM-related MOOC complete it).

Topics related to Health Information Management and Informatics have been a focus for several of our MOOCs.  As the ICD-10 CM/PCS implementation date neared, we offered a MOOC focused on anatomy and physiology content to address the increased anatomical specificity included in the code set. As the use of SNOMED-CT has increased to improve clinical documentation, we offered a MOOC focused on introducing health information management professionals to the structure and use of the terminology.  Similarly, as health data analytics surfaced as a key component of the American Health Information Management’s strategic pillar of informatics, we’ve offered two MOOCs on this topic — one focused on using the R statistical platform and the other on using Microsoft Excel.

We are currently offering a MOOC on using Microsoft Excel for Health Data Analytics. The course provides a hands on approach to learning data analytics. Registration is open until November 20th. To register for the course, click here

It is exciting for our College and Department to be involved in MOOCs. We are committed to offering quality education to thousands of students across the globe on topics of importance. We hope to see you online!



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October – The month of ghouls and goblins and ICD-10!

The long awaited transition deadline for ICD-10 has come and gone. However, many organizations are still waiting to see the full implications of the transition…was the training sufficient, did we allow enough time, did we scale back based on CMS’s grace period announcement?

Brooke Palkie
The waiting game consists of waiting to see if and how reimbursement is affected by ICD-10. It is yet to be seen if the denials will be based on payer policy change or errors on the claims. As we all wait, one key element we know is that it is time to get specific! We are now aware that many Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs) and National Coverage Determinations (NCDs) still require specificity. Specificity comes from the level of the documentation regarding the care provided to the patient. It is now time to really focus our energy on viewing ICD-10 as an opportunity to enhance the capture of care for complete and accurate clinical documentation. One way to streamline the CDI approach is to identify the areas where clinical documentation is required to meet current healthcare initiatives such as payment reform (Value-based Purchasing), Meaningful Use, quality reporting, analytics and research. How do you get the buy-in from providers? Complete and accurate clinical documentation promotes better patient care and provides for the accurate capture of acuity, severity, and risk of mortality data. 

So where to begin? Start the CDI focus on the low hanging fruit and high risk areas. We know for certain that ICD-10 has major changes from ICD-9 in terms of disease type, disease acuity, disease stage, site specificity, laterality, missing combination code detail, and changes in time-frames. Focus on your EHR templates; do you include prompts? Have you implemented CAC? Don’t let October scare you in your tracks. Use the ICD-10 transition to reignite and energize your CDI process!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Network With Us!

Katie Kerr
Are you going to the American Health Information Management Association’s Annual Convention and ExhibitResearch shows that building and maintaining networks is associated with career success. Those individuals who are more engaged in professional networks are more likely to have higher salaries over time and be satisfied with their career (Wolff & Moser, 2009). So, if you’re attending next week’s conference in New Orleans, LA, stop by and network with us! Please come by the St. Scholastica booth in the exhibitor hall. Faculty and staff will be there, and would enjoy seeing all of you! Also, if you are an alum of the program or a current student, join us for the St. Scholastica HIIM Reception on Monday, September 28th, 2015 from 6:00 to 8:00p.m. at the Marriott New Orleans Studio 2, 2nd floor 555, Canal Street, New Orleans.

Reference: Wolff, H. G., & Moser, K. (2009). Effects of networking on career success: A longitudinal study. Journal of Applied Psychology94(1), 196.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Katie Kerr
Things are constantly changing in healthcare.  The HIM profession continues to morph, and we are continually looking for innovative ways to meet all the challenges we are faced with. Healthcare organizations and HIM professionals are working hard to meet all the requirements presented by change, leaving less time to host interns and mentor our students.  We see this as an opportunity to get creative with how we provide professional practice experiences for our students, in fact, our educational outcomes are potentially improved because of it!
One way the HIIM Department at CSS is meeting this challenge is through our “Virtual” Directed Practice, Professional Practice Experience. The virtual directed practice allows our students to have an internship in the virtual environment. We provide them with “hands on” EHR experience, access to recorded interviews with HIM professionals, and practice and discussion surrounding sample data sets in order to meet learning objectives. This provides our students with a consistent experience and we are able to ensure that they are learning the fundamentals of HIM in order to meet our learning objectives and the needs of the industry.

As HIM continues to adapt to new models of data collection and maintenance, we must continue to reinvent ourselves and how we do our work to ensure and promote improved clinical outcomes and patient privacy. As Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention” and the CSS HIIM Department will continue to find ways to achieve and meet the needs of our changing HIM profession! 

Katie Kerr, MA, RHIA
Assistant Professor, HIIM
Academic Coordinator of Professional Practice Experiences

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Vivat St. Scholastica!

Greetings from the College of St. Scholastica!

Ryan Sandefer
I love the beginning of the new academic year. There is energy on campus that is palpable. Faculty, staff and students approach the new term with renewed interest, vision, and enthusiasm. The beginning of the year provides a clear reminder that we are a community with a shared mission and vision. At St. Scholastica, all faculty and staff gather to kick-start the academic year with a focus on the College’s Values. The College is guided by five values from the Benedictine Heritage:  Community, Hospitality, Respect, Stewardship, and Love of Learning. Each year the College focuses particular attention on one of these values, and this year we are celebrating the value of Community, which is described as:

Sharing responsibility to create and support community;
Creating a climate which promotes a sense of community while valuing the uniqueness of the individual;
Manifesting an ability to adapt to circumstances without compromising our values.

During this year’s all-faculty/staff gathering, Christopher Wheat, a current student in St. Scholastica’s MS HIM program who lives in Chicago, IL, presented on how the College’s community has impacted his experience. His comments centered on the power of using innovative course design, individual attention from staff and faculty, and attention to different learning styles. His remarks demonstrated the power of how engaged faculty, staff and students—regardless of the learning format—can be transformative for students.

The Health Informatics and Information Management Department is committed to promoting the sense of community that Christopher described. We aim to promote a community of learners within the classroom, but we also strive to create a strong sense of community among students and alumni as individuals navigate their professional careers. This is no easy task. It requires creative and adaptive curriculum, community outreach, social media engagement, and commitment from all parties involved.

I wish you all the best this year. Please stay in touch, and remember,

Vivat St. Scholastica!


Friday, August 21, 2015

Advancing Your Degree or Getting That New Certification – Don’t Fear it! You Can Do It!

Danika Brinda
Advancing a person’s education can be an exciting time, but comes with many challenges, fears, and anxieties.  The thought of obtaining a new certification or an advanced degree that may take 2-4 years or more, may be a challenge that not everyone is willing to accept; however, the benefits an advanced degree can have on one’s personal and professional life can be life changing!  Don’t let the fear of the unknown or challenge deter you from reaching your life goals!  Getting outside of your comfort zone is where most of the growth we experience happens!  

Starting off on a PhD journey, I knew the road wasn’t going to be easy and would require a lot of time and dedication.  This meant less time with my family, and many hours in the basement office trying to figure out what I was doing, how I was going to finish this assignment, and how I was going to write a dissertation.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how I was going to schedule studying into my already full life as a full-time faculty member, a mom of 2 small girls, and a wife!  Figuring out how to get back into learning mode was the most challenging of the entire process.  I was challenged with moving from the role of a teacher into the role of the student.  I remember sitting down in the beginning of the program staring at the computer wondering why I decided this was a good idea and how on earth was I going to be successful.  The good news is, through dedication, late nights, lots of coffee, and a support group, I was able to successfully complete my goal of earning an advanced degree – and so can you! 

Being successful in any program requires planning, time, support and dedication.  Here are some helpful tips and tricks that I learned from my PhD journey:
  • Plan ahead – make a check list, buy a planner, do whatever you need to do so can proactively plan your schedule based on your course requirements. 
  • Focus on small steps – if you try to look at your journey as a whole it can be overwhelming and discouraging.  Set small goals for yourself so you feel accomplishments along the way!
  • Celebrate along the way – don’t wait until the end.  Little successes along the way can provide you with the motivation needed to keep pushing forward.
  • Share your experience with your friends and family – talk about where you are and what you have to do, and share it on social media (if you use it).  Encouragement is so helpful to keep motivated.
  • Realize that not everything will be perfect – be okay with accepting a lower grade or submitting a paper that may not quite meet the high standards you have set for yourself.  Busy lives sometimes prevent us from being ‘perfect.’ Do your best and be grateful for the grades you earn and the knowledge you have gained!
  • Ask for help – don’t be afraid to ask someone for help with family life, kids, parents, reading a paper, or whatever obstacles you are facing. 
  • Enjoy some ‘you’ time – it is ok to take a break to refresh and get back into the groove.
  • Don’t give up – even when you are at the lowest point and you are not sure how you will continue on, take a deep breath and don’t quit!  You can DO this!
  • Surround yourself with a good support group – linking up with others going through the same program can help when you have to reach out for support and need someone who understands what you are going through.  A solid support group with family and friends is essential for successful completion of a new degree or certification. 
Please remember, not every semester, class, or assignment will be perfect.  It is okay to not be 100% all the time – this was a tough lesson for me to learn, but so important.  As long as you give it your best, learn the information, and meet the expectations, you have succeeded.  Strive for your goals and reach for the moon.  You have the ability to do anything you set your mind to!  I am leaving you with my favorite quote – reading it every day helps me set the mood to be successful on days where it seems like the sun will never shine!

“I want to remember that no one is going to make my dreams come true for me… it is my job to get up every day and work toward the things that are deepest in my heart…and to enjoy every step of the journey rather than wishing I was already where I want to end up.” – Unknown Author

Danika Brinda, PhD, RHIA, CHPS, HCISPP
Assistant Professor, HIIM