Monday, April 24, 2017

AHIMA Takes the Hill

At the end of March 2017, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) held their annual Advocacy Symposium and Capitol Hill Day.  In the midst of the Cherry Festival and full blown cherry blossoms, representatives from 48 Component State Associations (CSAs) met up to discuss topics important to health information management professionals and the healthcare industry.  
At the Advocacy Symposium, discussion surrounded the HIPAA and the continued process of supporting patient rights under HIPAA in the ever-changing healthcare industry.  Deven McGraw, Deputy Director of Health Information Privacy for the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), spoke about the importance of patient access to health information, the reduction of barriers to access, the current HIPAA audits, and plans for the future.  The OCR and DHHS continue to put resources and tools out to the healthcare industry to support the modernization of the HIPAA regulations in the new electronic world!   
Cora Han, Senior Attorney in the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), spoke about how the FTC continues to address privacy and security concerns, in addition to issues with non-HIPAA compliant entities.  It was a very informative speech that provided great insight to how DHHS and the FTC work together to ensure privacy and security protections to consumers of healthcare!
We ended the day with a great presentation regarding how to disrupt healthcare and learned about how to "Flip the Clinic."  It is a great concept that has gotten a lot of discussion on social media platforms such as Twitter. Check out more information regarding Flip the Clinic -
The day after the Advocacy Symposium, the AHIMA Representation charged Capitol Hill to discuss two important topics facing the health information community: 1) National Patient Identifier and 2) the HIM profession.  With the change of leadership due to the recent presidential election, it was important to focus on the continued conversation in regard to moving towards a national patient identifier, a key component in supporting interoperability between healthcare information systems.  A specific solution was not being discussed, but rather the dialogue centered around continued support and keeping language out of the Appropriations Bill that would block the conversation about a National Patient Identifier.  
The second conversation on Capitol Hill informed legislators of who we are as health information professionals, and what expertise and support we can bring to the conversations in the healthcare legislation areas. It is important for our legislators to know about us as new issues and proposed laws and regulations emerge.  The goal is for them to remember our profession and reach out to the HIM community to support legislation!
Overall, it was an extremely successful couple of days. AHIMA and the CSA Representation had great conversations with positive outcomes.  We definitely made our point, continuing our success and reputation in the legislative environment. The other highlight of the trip was seeing the beautiful cherry blossom trees in full bloom!  If you haven’t seen them in person, put it on your list of things to see.  It is definitely worth the trip!

~Danika Brinda

Monday, April 17, 2017

Senior Student Coordinates Marrow Registry Event

Senior student Amy North is helping to organize an event on the CSS campus at the end of April. We were fortunate to catch up with her electronically to get the scoop on the preparations.

At the end of April, there will be an event that you’ve been working on with DKMS. What do
people need to know about the organization and event?

DKMS is a bone marrow registry organization that was founded in Germany in 1991 by Dr. Peter Harf, after he lost his wife to leukemia.  He founded the organization hoping to help every blood cancer patient find a matching donor.  At the time the foundation was started, there were only 3,000 potential stem cell donors available to provide a transplant in Germany.  Just one year after DKMS was founded this number increased to 68,000!  Since then, the organization has continued to register, counting 6 million donors worldwide, and has given over 50,000 people a second chance at life.
The event happening at St. Scholastica is to register more potential donors, and will be taking place Tuesday, April 25 from 9-5 in the Student Union.  The registration process takes only 5-10 minutes and involves filling out a registration form and performing a cheek swab.  The screening process for donors is very thorough.  Less than 1% of people who register are chosen as a potential match. Therefore, DKMS strives to get more and more donors, which is why we are having a drive on campus.
How did you hear about the group and decide to become involved as a coordinator?

I received an email from a DKMS employee that was forwarded onto students by the HIIM department, asking for a volunteer to coordinate the drive.  I was very eager to help because bone marrow donation has always been an interest and passion of mine.  Merissa Edwards, a CSS Athletic Department staff member, received stem cells from a DKMS donor in 2014 and DKMS is helping to unite Merissa with her donor, from Germany, for the very first time.  Merissa will be introducing her donor at the CSS athletic sports awards banquet on Monday, April 24th and the bone marrow donor drive will take place the next day to help raise awareness and encourage others to join the registry to help others searching for their donor match.
CSS has held bone marrow drives with DKMS since 2008 and has registered 1,323 potential donors, 71 potential matches, and 14 donors who went on to donate their stem cells to give a blood cancer/blood disease patient a second chance at life!
What (if any) goals do you and the organization hope to meet?

It is our goal to have 150 people register to be potential donors.  In past years at CSS, there have been over 100 donors and we are hoping with Merissa’s personal story and tie to the CSS community that there will be even more people interested in registering.
We are also hoping to receive financial donations during the drive.  While there is no cost for someone to register as a donor, there is a cost associated with testing to see if the potential donor is a match.  Because DKMS is a non-profit organization, they rely on donations to make this possible, and we hope to help offset these costs with any financial contributions we receive.
What have you found to be most rewarding about coordinating the event?

As a freshman at St. Scholastica, I registered to be a potential bone marrow donor.  I could not say no to registering, knowing that there was a possibility I could help give someone a second chance at life.  There are so many diseases and disorders with little or no treatment options, but in this case, there is something that can be done!  Blood cancer is one of the leading causes in cancer deaths around the world and it kills more children in the United States than any other disease. There is an opportunity to change that by registering to be a donor.  I am very excited to see others make the decision to be donors and help spread the word about this life-changing organization!

Do you plan to continue to be involved with DKMS?

I would love to continue to be involved with DKMS!  I hope to work for an organization that has a strong belief in its mission and is making a difference in the world, so to work for DKMS would be a dream come true!  However, even if I do not go on to work for the organization, they are always looking for more donors and financial contributions, so I hope to coordinate more bone marrow swab drives in the future and to continue to spread the word about DKMS and bone marrow registry.

Thanks to Amy, and we hope to see strong attendance at the April 25 event!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Alumni Profile - Brittney Dahlin

Name: Brittney Dahlin

Year of Graduation: 2012
Current Employer: Minnesota Association of 
Community Health Centers           
Position: Director of Quality Improvement

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?

My responsibilities include supporting Minnesota’s 17 Federally Quality Health Centers in their Quality Improvement activities. This includes training, technical assistance, convening peer learning networks, etc. around data analytics, population health, information technology, health care home implementation, and any other QI priorities they may have.

In our current health care landscape where value-based payment is imminent, health care organizations will have to be able to collect, analyze, improve, and report quality measures just to survive. This will require solid use of information systems, data analytic tools, and the ability to improve outcomes. My HIM education prepared me to handle all of these challenges.

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

What I remember best about taking HIM classes were my fabulous teachers. All of them had a strong passion for not only what they were teaching, but for their students.

What is most rewarding about your work in HIIM?

I started out my health care journey as a nursing student because I wanted to help people. I quickly realized that direct patient care was not my life long calling. Working in quality allows me to indirectly improve care and better patients’ lives without the direct patient contact. Switching my major to HIM was the best decision I could have ever made. 

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

The sky is the limit. HIM is such a versatile degree that it can lead you to just about any corner of the health care system (and there are a lot of corners). Just because a job posting doesn’t list your degree, doesn’t mean you are not qualified. Apply anyway.

What book are you currently reading for fun? Bossypants by Tina Fey 
·         What is your favorite travel destination? I recently acquired a love for Washington, D.C. I can spend days in a museum of which they have many.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Staying Connected

HIM Alums Kelly Cinquegrani,
Janelle Wapola & Mariah Hovick!
One of the values at St. Scholastica that we hold dear is community, and I've been reflecting on how that community is evident within our HIIM Department. Community 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.”

Each year as our HIM students graduate, our faculty and staff come together to celebrate the achievements of our students and their future contributions to our profession. We look forward to that transition, as students become alumni and move into professional roles, each year. We hope that students choose to stay in touch and share their successes as they grow in their careers, as that is what being a "Saint for Life" is all about! In our department we cherish each encounter with an alum, whether it be as a guest speaker, a phone call, Christmas card, or a visit at a conference ~ we love it all! The ongoing relationship after those students have graduated reinforces the community that we appreciate so much.

In January I had the opportunity to visit with two recent alums (above!) at the annual CSS alumni basketball game. What a great time to visit and catch up with these fine ladies! That experience reminded me of how fortunate I am to have the connections made here throughout my college years and professional years. I, too, am a “Saint for Life!”

I'd encourage all of our alumni to stay in touch. Send us a message when you get a promotion, move to a new position, speak at a conference, or have other great news to share! Consider updating your contact information with our HIIM administrative assistant, Diana Wark (, so that we can also stay in touch.  In addition, keep reading our blog, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter (@CSSHIIM), and join our department LinkedIn group. We share updates from the department, students, alumni, and the industry.

Also, make sure that you stay connected through the College Alumni group as well! Find their page here, as there are lots of benefits, events, and networking opportunities.  Speaking of events, the MHIMA Conference is coming up in April in Prior Lake.  On Thursday, April 27th, we will be hosting an alumni social at Mystic Lake Casino.  Visit the link to RSVP, and we look forward to seeing many of you there!

~Janelle Wapola

Thursday, March 2, 2017

HIMSS 2017 Conference Recap - Micky DeFosses

I attended the HIMSS17 Conference in Orlando, Florida on February 19-23, 2017.  The event was packed with experts in cyber security, data analytics, technology, and health information.  Two notable speakers were Shark Tank's Kevin O’Leary (Innovator/Investor) and Robert Herjavec, a cyber security expert. There were also many other federal and insurance industries and departments representing the OIG, CMS, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration.

Some topics addressed the direction of many of these programs in lieu of the new administration and issues in respect to the direction and impact of health and IT.  These leaders also spoke on topics including; privacy, security, data analytics, information governance, mobile technologies, patient care, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance, and many other topics.

John Boehner, former speaker of the US House of Representatives, discussed workforce and federal government. The keynote address from Jenni Romney, Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM; discussed global business and technology, with a strong emphasis on increasing STEM and mathematical skills for professionals and students today.  There were more than 300 exhibitors with technology tools to assist in improving the quality of patient care, medicine and data security and 1200 educational sessions to learn from in five days. 

I learned a great deal in such a short period of time and felt privileged to have attended the conference as a student of the College of St. Scholastica.  I would also encourage any student or graduate to attend the HIMSS Conference in the future and to benefit from the many networking opportunities and roundtable sessions.

Micky DeFosses, RHIT, CCS.
AHIMA Approved ICD10CM-PCS Trainer
B.S. HIM 2017 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Learning the Story: A Year of CSS HIIM

In January 2016 I began working in the College of Saint Scholastica HIIM Department, a community within a community. Somehow the year went by like a blink, and over the recent holidays I have started to consider how this trip around the sun has impacted me. I had relatively basic knowledge of the school when I started, and my background in HIIM is non-traditional. I’ve combined a variety of education, work, and life experiences to match the needs of the school and the department, and feel lucky to be able to do so.

The school holds tightly to its Catholic Benedictine roots and values, greeting everyone with “radical hospitality”.  I have been treated to this in a new employee dinner with the school’s president (I hope that retirement is treating Larry Goodwin well!), lunch with the Board of Trustees, and many other social gatherings. As an example, the annual appreciation luncheon for CSS employees showed the deep level of investment that the school makes in its workforce and the same investment of that workforce in the school. Everyone dressed up and embraced the occasion. Along with many other opportunities to come together for convocation, commencement, or town hall meetings, it has been remarkable to work in a place so supportive and engaging. And, I’ve learned that the HIIM Department not only reflects but magnifies those same values.

For both school and department, expectations are high and consistently met or exceeded.  Our HIIM Faculty members publish articles and textbooks at a prolific rate, and speak at professional conferences around the country. Students frequently earn competitive scholarships at the state and national level, and find meaningful employment or benefit to current positions straight out of their programs.  I bet it would be impossible to go to a single professional healthcare conference in the country without bumping into alumni or friends of the program.  This wide web of connections allows current students to complete beneficial professional practice experiences in a variety of unique settings, from traditional health systems to consulting firms and industry leaders.  It provides a network of advocates and resources for job seekers and those looking for professional development. Alumni return to speak to current students, to present at the LaTour-Eichenwald Forum on HIM Leadership and Innovation, to keep a connection to the castle on the hill. I could go on extolling the specific successes of faculty, students, and alumni until I had a tome the length of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”!

Now, this is not to say that there is an overwhelming air of seriousness or focus on the ground floor of the Science Building. Rather, it is not surprising to be overwhelmed by a barrage of fake snowballs from colleagues upon arriving in the morning. There’s more coffee consumed in this wing than can be believed, as someone is always filling a cup in the breakroom or at Einstein. Saltines and peanut butter are consumed at a rate that borders on addiction, and any sweets that land on the table simply do not last. Any story that’s told around here is matched by two others, and it’s also literally impossible to go a day without laughing, unless you lock yourself in your own office.

As an analogy, the HIIM department is like an overachieving aunt or uncle, one whose holiday letter describes a year worth of travel and fun, before casually mentioning a potential nomination for a Nobel prize (and a handwritten note that both says and means “See you soon!”). This recap lands right below the picture of them giving a noted celebrity or political figure bunny ears on a red carpet. It’s worth both a chuckle and a bit of green envy, and you’re always excited to tell people of your relation to “Aunt or Uncle So-and-So”.

In the end, the family thing really carries through, whether it’s the department or the school. There are deep roots shooting out in every direction and kind faces around every corner. I did not know what it meant to become a Saint in HIIM at first, but I’m starting to get it now.


Eric Nordgren

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Students Begin Work on Internship Project at Essentia Health

Two current Health Information Management students have begun internship positions working on a major project at Essentia Health in the Information Services department. Chase Wood and Elizabeth Braun started their work in January, and we were able to catch up with them as they were getting underway.
Kicking things off: what will your responsibilities be as an IS intern at Essentia Health? When do you start, or have you already begun working? 

CW: As an IS intern with Essentia, my job is to assist during a "Go Live" during the first two weeks of February as well as a separate "Go Live" that will take place in May. A "Go Live" is a period of time when Essentia implements a new software within their facilities. For this "Go Live" they will be introducing "Beaker", which is a new feature of EPIC, into their labs departments across all of Essentia Health. My job is to learn how to use this new software, essentially become an expert on it, and then help anyone within the labs department that may need it during the first two weeks in February. During winter break I attended classes about Beaker, as well as studying and using it, to make sure I am prepared to help anyone who may need it when the time comes. 

EB: As an IS intern at Essentia Health I will be helping end users during the implementation of Epic's Beaker system into the clinics. I started my internship by doing eight to twelve independent study hours a week starting on January 3. As interns, we were required to attend two training sessions on the Med Tech version of the Beaker system. Along with those we have attended a floor support training where we were shown the ropes by an IS professional. During implementation, we will be stationed in labs around Duluth, and after the implementation happens, we will be helping the Information Systems employees with projects and working side by side with them. Then, towards May, we will be supporting the reboot of the system.
What are you most excited for with this internship? Do you have any specific goals? 

CW: I am mainly excited for the great experience that I will be gaining during this time, as well as getting a chance to meet the other interns.

EB: As an intern I am the most excited to be able to be in the real life hospital setting. To be honest, just being in the separate Information Systems building will be such a learning experience to feel the atmosphere of the real work environment. My goals will be to really get as comfortable as I can in this work environment to see if this is a setting that I would like to be in, or if I would want to be something different, like a vendor. I really want to use this internship as a guide to where I want to be in the future after graduation. 
How do you think this experience will help you as a HIM student at CSS, and as you begin your career?

CW: This experience helps me as an HIM student because it is my first opportunity to put all of the knowledge that I have gained in the classroom over the last two and a half years to work. It's fun to see all of the information we have been learning finally become applicable in a real life situation. This helps me with my career because it is a fantastic opportunity to get my foot in the door for future job opportunities within the field. 

EB: I think that this experience will allow me to use the knowledge that I have gained in class and apply it to a real working area. There are ten interns and only two of us are HIM majors, the other eight are health management majors. I think having a different field than the rest of my colleagues will teach me to collaborate. I have not collaborated with other majors much during my time at St.Scholastica, and I think it will help me to appreciate the skills other people can bring to the table and also it prepare me for the future if I am in a heavily mixed group of Computer Technologies and Health Information Management. 

Even though you were busy preparing for the internship, did you do anything exciting over winter break?

CW:  I had the opportunity to see comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham live at the Target Center! 

EB: I was able to go home for a couple of days and I saw my eldest brother for the first time since his wedding in August. I was also able to spend some quality time with the rest of my immediate family. 

Wow! Exciting time for these two. We wish Chase and Elizabeth the best as they dive into their work at Essentia Health, and look forward to sharing more stories about our wonderful students!