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Challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented to healthcare—and areas where health information professionals can be part of the solution—were on the minds of speakers at Wednesday’s AHIMA20 general session.

Participants in a panel on international healthcare privacy reflected on the need to balance privacy and access to information during the pandemic.

Clayton Hamilton, technical officer at the World Health Organization, noted that elements of successful contact tracing in some countries have included accountability mechanisms for use and retention of data, management of consent, ethical considerations, technology designed to protect privacy, and appropriate oversight mechanisms.

Strong collaboration between public and private sectors is necessary as well. Governments, public health app developers, healthcare workforce, and security professionals need to collaborate for efforts like digital contact tracing to be adopted by consumers, Hamilton said.

“These systems are not naturally interoperable. In the long term, they need to be,” he said.

The patient should always be at the center of the equation, said AHIMA President Ginna Evans, MBA, RHIA, CPC, CRC, FAHIMA, in her opening speech.

“Each of us is working to ensure complex, nuanced health data is complete, accurate, and protected. We hold the keys for access to the data and how we connect those using the data. Each of us as HIM professionals hold the future for the effective and protected use of data in our hands.”

—AHIMA President Ginna Evans, MBA, RHIA, CPC, CRC, FAHIMA

Evans noted that “the pandemic has emphasized our commitment to AHIMA’s mission of  ‘empowering people to impact health.’”

She added, “Each of us is working to ensure complex, nuanced health data is complete, accurate, and protected. We hold the keys for access to the data and how we connect those using the data. Each of us as HIM professionals hold the future for the effective and protected use of data in our hands.”

Thursday General Sessions—Sneak Peek

Today is AHIMA Day—where we celebrate the organization and its accomplishments and help chart our future.

Events include a State of AHIMA address from CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE; presenting the winners of the AHIMA Grace and Triumph awards; the final rounds of the AHIMA20 Pitch Competition.

The general session runs from 1:45-3:15pm CT . Be sure to download a reminder to your Outlook calendar.

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