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It was a jam-packed first day for the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference. From workflows for sharing clinical and administrative data in a patient-centered way to patient privacy in a global pandemic reality, we’ve curated a sampling of takeaways from the first day of education sessions.

To learn more about education opportunities for the duration of the conference, click here.

Bringing Together Clinical and Administrative Data

In Bringing Together Clinical and Administrative Data moderated by AHIMA’s Lauren Riplinger, JD, panelists shared a variety of stakeholder observations and frustrations about inefficient workflows for sharing clinical and administrative data in a patient-centered way.

Much of the discussion centered on prior authorizations, the process by which providers obtain payers’ approval before ordering procedures or medications.

Panelist Tom Mason, MD, chief medical officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), highlighted his agency’s latest efforts to address prior authorization burdens. Mason said one topic that came up repeatedly during ONC’s research of the issue was “how do we in a private and secure manner enable patients to know where their prior authorization is in the process? If we order something online, we know where it is in being delivered to our house. To have a process where patients can have the ability to know: ‘where is my authorization in the process?’ That patient-centric model has been at the core of much of the discussion for what this should look like,” Mason said.

Further Reading:
How to Be a Remarkable Leader in a Virtual Workplace

In How to Be a Remarkable Leader in a Virtual Workplace, Thea Campbell, MBA, RHIA, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center discussed the evolution of the remote or virtual workplace, including leadership challenges and opportunities when managing a remote workforce.

Campbell compared the similarities and differences in leading remote teams in terms of achieving outcomes, engaging with and understanding others. She polled attendees about their most significant challenges, including low-energy employees, inadequate feedback, any why silence during meetings should not necessarily be taken as consensus.

When managing remote teams, she says, “you just need to keep trying new tactics and strategies within the virtual environment” until you find team cohesion.

She also provided practical guidance on common difficulties such as time keeping, getting more people to utilize videos, identifying areas for collaboration, and making time for one-on-one interactions.

Further Reading:
Why Electronic Case Reporting is Vital During Pandemics and Outbreaks

In the session Why Electronic Case Reporting is Vital During Pandemics and Outbreaks, presenters Allison Viola, MBA, RHIA and Walter Suarez, MD, MPH, explored the creation of Digital Bridge, a forum designed to bring together key decision makers from health IT, healthcare delivery entities, public health organizations, and other committed industry leaders to collaborate on technical solutions for a nationally standardized, sustainable approach to exchanging and using electronic health data.

This initiative works to leverage a standards-based approach to bidirectional information exchange among healthcare stakeholders to ease administrative burden, as well as enable better informed clinicians regarding population health, environmental risks, and outbreaks.

Although the increased adoption and implementation of EHRs has dramatically improved the ability of providers to report conditions electronically, the presenters contend, paper-based manual reporting remains pervasive.

“Public health agencies across the country continue to face new challenges, such as surveilling chronic and infectious diseases like the coronavirus and others,” says Suarez. “We see the role of the HIM professional as essential to supporting and maintaining data exchange and reporting among disparate systems.”

Further Reading:
Protecting the Privacy of Health Information in a Global, Mobile, and Digital World

The global COVID-19 pandemic has made the protection of patient privacy more vital than ever. In the session Protecting the Privacy of Health Information in a Global, Mobile, and Digital World, presenters Lorraine Fernandes, RHIA, International Federation of Health Information Management Associations (IFHIMA), and Dorinda Sattler, MJ, RHIA, CHPS, CPHRM, Indiana University, offered detailed perspectives and recommendations on protecting the privacy of health information in an increasingly global, mobile and digital world.

According to Fernandes, “Health data is no longer kept just for providers; rather, it is increasingly shared across systems and borders, used for research and analytics, and shared directly with the patient.”

Managing the privacy of health information has become increasingly complex. It is imperative for health information stakeholders to learn about emerging trends and new rules that will impact their work with health data.

It is critical that HIM professionals assess what new and emerging regulations may mean to your organization and commit to ongoing professional growth to stay abreast of the changing landscape.

Further Reading:
Predicting Lung Cancer Amongst High Risk Patients

Lung cancer is one of the most common diseases in both men and women and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

In the Wednesday session “Predicting Lung Cancer Amongst High Risk Patients,” Bianca Jackson, MPH, PhD student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and Charisse Madlock, PhD, faculty member in Health Informatics and Information Management at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, gave attendees an overview of how citizen science tool RapidMiner was used to improve their ability to predict lung cancer among high-risk patients.

Jackson gave an overview of the tool’s functionality, noting that it was both accessible and easy to use—making it a good option for those that don’t necessarily have a data science background.

“Anybody could us it,” said Jackson. She also noted that an important outcome of their work with the tool was the identification of important features that were reliable predictors of a patient’s risk of developing lung cancer.

Further Reading:
Simple Paths to Patient Access at Saint Luke’s Health System and Beyond

“In 2020, an era where we sign for a mortgage online… there’s no reason a patient should have to print, fax, scan, or walk-in in person, just to submit a request for medical records,” said Jeff Seidl, head of partnerships at Swellbox, as he kicked off the Wednesday afternoon session “Simple Paths to Patient Access at Saint Luke’s Health System and Beyond.”

Together with co-presenter Sharon Korzdorfer, MPA, RHIT, director of HIM at Saint Luke’s Health System, Seidl demonstrated the record request wizard tool available for all Saint Luke’s patients to use. The tool, which launches within the organization’s medical records information webpage, can be used on either a computer or smartphone.

Patient education options have been a great aspect of the tool, allowing Saint Luke’s to further explain to patients what information they are requesting and how they can receive it, noted Korzdorfer.

“Even though we are nonclinical by nature in our HIM department, we see ourselves as caregivers,” Korzdorfer said. Implementing this tool has allowed her team to reduce friction in the record request process, and patient feedback on the tool—which has been overwhelmingly positive—is routed directly to HIM staff via an anonymized dashboard. Seidl encouraged anyone interested in becoming a pilot partner to reach out via email at or

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