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It was a jam-packed second day for the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference, so we’ve curated a sampling of the education sessions on offer.

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

The Thoughtful Disruptor’s Guide to Leading Innovative Change

Leadership is an action and emerges as a result of dynamic interactions. Acknowledge, appreciate, and learn from the tensions inherent in a changing environment. Think about what it means to disrupt something in a way that is meaningful.

These were just some of the ideas discussed in the Thursday afternoon session The Thoughtful Disruptor’s Guide to Leading Innovative Change, presented by Maria Alizondo, MOL, MLC, RHIT, FAHIMA, director, HIMS – UCLA Health System.

Reviewing the work of several authors and researchers on the topic, Alizondo challenged attendees to distinguish between change and innovation. Change is incidental while innovation is structural, she explained. While change begins by seeing the world as it is, innovation begins by seeing the world as it should be. “Always ask why,” Alizondo encouraged the audience. Asking why helps us find the greater identity of our ideas and tease out new ideas in the innovation process.

Think Differently to Lead Differently

When session attendees type into a session’s comment box that the presenters should start a podcast together, it’s a clear signal that a presentation is successful. That’s what happened in Thursday’s leadership track session Think Differently to Lead Differently, which was delivered by Penny Crow, MS, RHIA, SHRM-SCP, principal/compliance officer at Brittain-Kalish Group, and Christine Kalish, MBA, CMPE, CEO of Brittain-Kalish Group.

Crow and Kalish both acknowledged that the changes in healthcare—especially in an era where healthcare professionals are dealing with a pandemic—require new approaches in leadership and communication. One of the changes leaders should think about is encouraging critical thinking by every employee. In Crow’s own research she says that the US lags behind other developed countries on critical thinking skills, and much of that has to do with how Americans are raised.

“Critical thinkers ask the question ‘why.’ By the time a child is 8, the habit of asking ‘why’ is drilled out of them. We say things like ‘just because!’ so that they stop asking,” Crow said. “Critical thinking skills mean being able to look at a situation through someone else’s eyes. We should be able to understand perspective of practice director, coder, physician.”

Changing Healthcare Public Policy Landscape during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways accelerated adoption of technologies such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring, while at the same time widening a gap between who can access critical services. In Thursday’s session Changing Healthcare Public Policy Landscape during the COVID-19 Pandemic, panelists shared some reflections and predictions on public health’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

According to panelist Morgan Reed, executive director, Connected Health Initiative between March and August of 2020, 36 percent of all Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries have received telemedicine services. While telehealth opened up access to care for a huge chunk of the population, the discontinuation of in-person mental health and substance abuse services during this time has exacerbated the problem. Due to clinic closures, people who overuse opioids as a result of chronic pain conditions had a harder time getting treatment for the underlying cause of their pain, noted Reed.

When session moderator Lauren Riplinger, JD, asked each panelist whether the changes we’ve seen since the pandemic are here to stay, all three were in agreement that changes, particularly in telehealth adoption, are here for good.

“The toothpaste is already out of the tube,” said Allison Viola. “We’ve made progress, the data is there to show improved outcomes, experiences and health outcome are improving with lower costs through grants that’ve been provided. Question is what do we do with this now?”

The Rise of Privacy

Healthcare privacy and information security is at a crossroads.

Increased interoperability, portability, and connectivity of health information presents opportunities to improve patient care across the healthcare continuum. Regulations such as the Office of the National Coordinator’s final rule on information blocking have empowered patients with unprecedented control over their own medical information. Advances in software and technology enable providers and payers to store and exchange larger and more complex data sets.

However, each of these opportunities presents enormous challenges to the mission of privacy and security professionals to safeguard protected health information, according to Kelly McLendon, RHIA, CHPS, the presenter for Thursday’s Rise of Privacy session.

“Scaling up COVID-19 suppression tactics, like contact tracing and disease surveillance, and relaxing HIPAA regulations to accommodate the expansion of telehealth and other virtual services, presents new vulnerabilities to sensitive patient information,” McClendon says.

His well-attended and active session provided a global scope of privacy and security in the near- and long terms. He also explored the differences in privacy laws in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East—and the potential impact those regulations could have on each other.

Creating the Next Wave of Female Leaders: Best Practices for Building a Healthy, Diverse Business

Women make 80 percent of all healthcare buying decisions and comprise 65 percent of the US healthcare workforce, yet they only make up 25 percent to 30 percent of healthcare executives, and only 13 percent of CEOs are female, according to Patrice Wolfe, CEO of AGS Healthcare.

In her session Creating the Next Wave of Female Leaders: Best Practices for Building a Healthy, Diverse Business Wolf enumerated the many challenges women face in reaching executive leadership roles in their organizations as well as strategies for tearing down those barriers. She also shared statistics that reflect how having women in leadership roles is actually good for business. For example, privately held technology companies led by women are more capital-efficient, achieving 35 percent higher ROI, Wolfe noted.

To get more women into leadership roles, Wolfe says companies need to rewrite the narrative through the following ways:

  • Messaging: Attract women at all levels by making your company attractive to female candidates by refreshing your messaging and hosting special events.
  • Tie gender diversity to executive compensation—bonus and equity payouts should have gender-related performance gates.
  • Expose women to operations and financial decisions by offering rotation programs through different business units and departments
  • Create programs that give women networking opportunities and exposure to leadership meetings.

“Changing the narrative doesn’t mean that if I get a seat at the table you don’t; it means we need a bigger table,” Wolfe said.

Impact of the ‘With’ Guideline

Attendees of the Thursday morning session Impact of the ‘With’ Guideline hit the ground running as Bridgette Stephens Miller, MBA, RHIA, CCS, CDIP, AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer, discussed ins and outs of coding scenarios related to the guideline. With sample coding scenarios and highlighted selections from Coding Clinic guidance and the official code book, Miller covered appropriately assigning codes for “with” when there is a causal relationship assumption, applying correct code sequencing when the documented diagnosis does not have an assumed relationship, and reviewing ICD-10-CM code set specific “with” guidelines. She also went over situations in several specific coding sections such as Anemia, With Bleed, and Diabetes, calling out scenarios where attention to documentation is especially important and showing where to find relevant information and guidelines to code correctly.

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