Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Student Profile - David Lee


Name: David Lee, RHIA, CHDA
Current Employer and Position: Clinical Data Analyst at Vista Community Clinic, San Diego, California
Program/Degree/Anticipated Graduation Date: M.S. Health Informatics/Summer 2018



Why did you choose The College of St. Scholastica’s HIIM program?







I worked in computer and high-tech industry for 20+ years and wanted to change my career to something more meaningful work to my life. As I was involved in many different healthcare situations during my life, I became much interested in healthcare, especially how technology innovation could affect healthcare delivery and quality of patient care more efficiently. After I took a few courses in healthcare and health information technology at a local community college, I felt certain health informatics & information management would be the area which I could devote myself in the second half of my career. I considered a few schools offering a graduate program in HIIM, but the CSS was the obvious choice and I have never had any regret since.

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

I believe data analytics is most inspiring and promising field in HIIM, as it is essential to improve clinical outcomes and deliver cost-effective care. Success of a health information system would depend on how to extract and analyze the right data and information at the right time for the right population. Proper data analytics and information governance will make healthcare industry to renovate the way organizations and providers deliver patient care and improve its quality and performance.

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

My keen interests are in health information technology (HIT) in rural communities, as they face unique challenges with the implementation and execution of HIT due to limited resources and technology expertise in the community. Now I am working at a community clinic in suburban area of San Diego, which is one of FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center) supporting underserved and migrant communities in San Diego and Orange County of Southern California. My long-term career goal includes taking a lead in developing technology models and providing telehealth workflow solutions for rural communities both effectively and efficiently, so that patients in remote locations can get an equal access to healthcare resources in a timely manner.

What advice would you give to someone considering entering a HIIM Program at The College of St. Scholastica?

Especially to those who are making a career change to health informatics & information management: Believe in you. Don’t give up and make sure always aim high. You will never know what can happen. Your success is just one wish away!

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I like outdoor sports including hiking, backpacking, biking, and kayaking. They are not just fun but awesome ways to immerse yourself in nature to relax.

What is your favorite travel destination?

My favorite travel destination is Yosemite National Park. I have been going to Yosemite for the last 30 years whenever possible and it is always like home when I go back. It’s a refreshing escape from my busy life and gets me into a peace of mind surrounded by nature. Hiking with family is the best thing of all, as we make a memory each time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

It's All About the Journey - A HIM Story


I’ve never sat down to really think about the story of my Health Information Management (HIM) journey, and how I ended up where I am today. I feel like I haven’t had the time to even think about it. I blinked, and it happened. I started my undergraduate degree as a small town, Midwestern girl who had life planned out. By the time I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management, I was engaged and planning our wedding, the mother of a baby boy, and trying to land my first professional job. I blinked again, and was married with a new baby girl and about to start my Master’s degree in Health Information Management. Of course, a lot happened along the way.

I was raised in a very small, rural community that didn’t have much, but it did have a nursing home. I first started spending time there as a child, visiting my great grandmother and participating in different activities with her. When I was 15, I started my first real job washing dishes there, then moved into housekeeping and finally, activities where I was able to spend more time with the residents. To this day, I still remember the smile on my favorite resident’s face, the way he always held your hand when he said hello or goodbye, and how difficult it was when he passed. Because of these experiences that I knew I wanted to do something in the healthcare field, but I didn’t know what yet. 

I initially pursued a Biochemistry major, thinking I would follow in the footsteps of my older brother and become a physician, but that didn’t really seem to fit. After a conversation with my advisor at the time, he quickly recognized that Health Care Management might be a better fit, and he was right. However, Health Care Management seemed like such a broad category and early on in my degree I struggled to figure out what area to focus on. I searched for connections in the healthcare field through anyone I knew, and sought their advice. A family friend, and CEO/Administrator of a rural hospital and long-term/post-acute care facility encouraged me to pursue my nursing home administrator’s license at the same time as my degree. At the time, many rural hospitals also had long-term/post-acute care facilities, so there was a need to have both. He also reached out to his contacts and helped facilitate meetings for possible internships. This helped me to land two internships in critical access hospitals with long-term/post-acute care centers, which opened the door to my first job out of college and the experience I needed to land other positions. I worked for Essentia Health, a large healthcare system based out of Duluth, MN. I primarily worked on education and training for leadership and for healthcare technologies, specifically their electronic health records implementation. I found that I really enjoyed working with others in this environment, and with constant change in healthcare there was always something to learn and to teach, and decided to explore this interest more.

I began working as an Academic Advisor for the online Health Information Management and Information Technology Leadership graduate programs at the College of St. Scholastica (CSS) in 2010. I quickly became a part of the CSS community and HIM family. As I learned more and more about the programs, I quickly began to see the similarities between HIM and my degree and experience. I recognized that many of the components that I enjoyed about my previous work related directly to HIM, I just didn’t realize what the field was called. An all too familiar story for HIM! In the fall of 2011, I decided to pursue my Master’s degree in HIM at CSS. By day, I was Janel Peterson, Academic Advisor, and a student and peer by night. Doing both of these roles at the same time gave me a unique perspective as an advisor and as a student, and led to opportunities that shaped my career today.

During my final onsite graduate seminar of my Master’s program I spent the week with my peers and faculty, and really engaged in my onsite classes. With a background in long-term/post-acute care I tried to bring perspective to an area that desperately needs more HIM staff, and tried to encourage my classmates to consider its needs as well. Due to this focus, I was approached by another student working as a HIM in long-term/post-acute care who saw this passion and recommended me for a position as an HIM Consultant for the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society. It was a position that melded HIM management, education/training, and long-term/post-acute care. (My personal unicorn.) I accepted the position, but still wanted to stay connected to my CSS family somehow. When the opportunity presented to teach in the department as an adjunct faculty member, I took advantage. I am in my fourth year now teaching Applied Research in HIM, and every term I am able to explore my love of learning and pass that along to others.

In addition to teaching, I still work as an HIM Consultant for Good Samaritan Society. I am faced daily with new challenges and opportunities knowing that what I am doing is making a difference in resident/patient care.  I feel very fortunate to be able to live out my passion and it’s hard to imagine anything more challenging and rewarding than the combination of HIM, long-term/post-acute care and education for me!

 ~Janel Peterson



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

MUDAC - What's that?


MinneMUDAC participants. L to R: David Marc,
Austin Lepley, Debashis Nandy, Heidi Albrecht

Data analytics is continuing to be an area of professional opportunity for health informatics and information management students. This past year, students from the HIIM department participated in student competitions focused on solving data analytics problems.

In the fall of 2017, students from the MS HIM and MS HI program participated in the MinneMUDAC data analytics competition held at Optum in Eden Prairie, MN. The students had 30 days to analyze healthcare claims data and predict future high cost patients with diabetes. In the Spring of 2018, a group of BS HIM students participated in the Midwest Undergraduate Data Analytics Competition (MUDAC) at Winona State University, which brings together around 150 undergraduates from colleges and universities around the Midwest. Participants spend 24 hours working on a data analytics problem to gain a deeper understanding of the characteristics that influence season ticket sales for the Minnesota Wild.
MUDAC Participants. Back L-R: Ben Thell, Jimmy
Kripotos, Rachel Aiken. Front: David Marc

Reflecting upon my experience advising students in these competitions, I’ve come to realize the value of these events. Students not only experience the camaraderie of working with their classmates, but also obtain practical experience analyzing data. They see firsthand the trials and tribulations of working with large and complex datasets, handling incomplete records, creating meaningful data visualizations, carrying out data mining tasks, and doing all of this in a very short timeframe.

Although these experiences can be grueling, they are also invigorating. The student that participated in these events have a greater appreciation and understanding of data analytics. I’m incredibly excited to organize teams of students for future competitions!

For those that are interested in participating as a judge or attending free data analytics events, I highly encourage you to follow MinneAnalytics – a data analytics community located in the Twin Cities.

~David Marc 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Alumni Profile - Pam Norman


Name: Pamela A. Norman, MS, RHIA, CHPS
Year of Graduation: 2014
Current Employer: Rainy Lake Medical Center
Position: Director of Health Information Management / EHR Project Manager / HIPAA Privacy Officer / Meaningful Use Coordinator


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?

I oversee all HIM functions including coding, transcription, release of information, and scanning. I also perform all HIPAA Privacy Officer duties including breach investigations, any applicable notifications, and maintaining HIM and privacy related policies. My EHR Project Manager duties include EHR implementation, hands-on assistance and troubleshooting, creating resources for medical staff, and working closely with ancillary and all organizational departments to improve processes and the flow of information. My Meaningful Use Coordinator duties include training, monitoring, and following-up with departments regarding compliance with required measures and filing governmental attestations for these measures.

The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) helped prepare me to be successful with my current job duties by instilling HIPAA compliance with each class that I took. Additionally, CSS helps students look at the collection of information through various means and the pros and cons of collecting discrete data, free text, and the implications of copy/paste functionality. CSS also introduces students to available resources, such as literature found in the AHIMA Body of Knowledge, that will aid in making job related decisions.


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

CSS prides themselves on helping students achieve their goals. As a non-traditional student entering the program in pursuit of a career change, I did not have a health care network to rely on. Not only did CSS help facilitate the building of a network, all CSS alumni that I encountered were more than willing to help by giving insights for class projects, participating and lining up required interviews, and organizing my professional practice placement.

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

Start building a network by maintaining relationships with faculty and fellow students and by participating in your AHIMA Component State Association annual conferences and committees.

What are your career goals in HIM?

I would like to implement or participate in a Health Care Analytics Program. These programs often work jointly to improve clinical outcomes and reduce spending, and the possibility of improving patient outcomes through data analysis excites me.

I would also like to become Adjunct Faculty for CSS and other institutions so I can return the favor by helping students attain their goals while supporting the future of HIM.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, playing sports with my kids, photography, and participating in any outdoor family activity.

What is your favorite travel destination?

If I ever travel away from beautiful Rainy Lake and Voyageurs National Park, I've always said that a vacation is anywhere with palm trees. I enjoy tropical landscapes and white sand beaches.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Preaching to the Choir: Advocacy and Advanced Directives

Religion, politics, and money. Did the hair on the back of your neck bristle? These three topics have been definitive as what not to talk about for peace and harmony in human interaction. How about I add just one more topic to that fine balance to make it a quartet: death. Hang onto those thoughts while I “walk you round the block” on the latter and how AHIMA and HIM bring reason to the least favorite of discussions.

Having defined topic taboos, let’s dive into what our profession is foundationally equipped for: advocacy. This message is about doing precisely that in the name of the personal health record (PHR) and advanced directives (AD). And, even though this is what we do well, there’s going to be a sermon that may feel like preaching to the choir. The message is remarkably pointed for me at the moment, more than ever.

Near the end of March, I delivered my first eulogy. It was for Sandi, a friend of 52 years, who passed away unexpectedly from complications of cancer. Her oldest daughter, my Goddaughter, is a recent nursing grad and works at our hometown hospital. Rachel was a comfort and advocate to her mother throughout the eighteen months of cancer treatments, as well as her medical champion. Rachel’s last call to duty for her mother was on the day she died.

As Sandi prepared to leave for her job as a paraprofessional at the local high school, she became increasingly short of breath and an ambulance was called. Once at the hospital, she went into cardiac arrest and the staff began CPR and intubation protocol. Rachel knew full well that Sandi was DNR/DNI by previous conversations and the yet-to-be-notarized document in her purse, Sandi’s advanced directive. There was no record of her living will in her medical record, therefore, the health team was obligated to apply interventional methods. In her heartbreaking bravery, Rachel was able to convince the medical team to cease and desist; Sandi passed away within minutes, but not without the physical assault of extraordinary measures. Had her AD been on record, the end could have been less dramatic and traumatizing for Rachel by degrees, who stopped “heroic” measures through her tears.

You know the adage: the cobbler’s children have no shoes. In that vein, do YOU, an HIM professional, who is called by membership to support the mission of AHIMA, have your AD notarized and on file? Does your family know your wishes and do you know theirs? Advocating for the patient, which includes our own family members, by educating them on their rights and responsibilities to establish living wills and durable power of healthcare attorney designation is what we are expertly positioned for so well. If you have a personal story, either of AD regret or success, share that to ignite the necessary conversation.

Set the example and commit to advocating for someone you love to complete their AD. Be brave and have the conversation with coworkers or neighbors. Use your knowledge of what could go wrong without this legal representation available during times of critical healthcare decision-making. Talk about this taboo and do so often; you’re braver than you think.

~Madonna LeBlanc

Download your state’s advanced directives: http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3289