I had the pleasure of speaking about Leadership with Jim Zelem, creator of the “You Are Just a Number” podcast. (Link can be found to his podcast page here). We discussed quite a few things namely, my creation of this blog and the importance of making an impact in healthcare, even if you don’t have a “leadership” or “managerial” title.
Aside from being interviewed, this experience further solidified my goal through this blogsite. I want this to provide an opportunity for others to see and challenge how they can apply their experience in healthcare through different avenues. Think about what the future of healthcare is going to do to your role? How will you remain a competitive employee in a world where process automation is becoming the norm? I challenged myself by enrolling in a boot camp that teaches data analytics using Python. I did this because I see how traditional HIM roles are changing. Even now, AHIMA is implementing a change to the RHIA certification come March 2021 because, we as HIM professionals more than ever, are needed to be masters of health data.
I hope you find this interview insightful and encouraging!
If you notice the image above you may think, why is a blog post about tech not more “trendy”… where the images of computer chips and fancy graphics? We will get to that later. First we are going to do a brief synopsis of HL7.
A dear friend of mine asked me to speak to her students as an introduction to HL7 or Health Layer 7. In our HIM curricula, we are taught that HL7 was the introduction of technology implementation in the healthcare space. It birthed the beginnings of Meaningful Use and is our modern day enforcement of quality measures in MIPS and MACRA. In the US healthcare system, CMS guidelines from meaningful use enforce quality care over quantity care in the US healthcare system. While this is important, HL7 is actually so much bigger than that.
If you look at the titles to the books in the image above, you might notice that there are some computer programming languages in the titles like C#, Visual Basic and Java. This is helpful to know because what you need to know about HL7 is that it is a set of standards that are required for any software application that is utilized to collect healthcare data. This was mandated by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) as part of the HIPAA mandate of 1996. HL7 is important for health information management professionals because it provides the guidance for anything and everything related to healthcare data. Think about the technology you utilize today. Are you able to access healthcare data on your phone? How are you accessing it? Are you prompted to log into a website or app? HL7 is a standard that defines what can be accessed, stored and uploaded onto a site or through a software application. These standards define how clinical information can be moved and transferred through various systems or applications and provide guidelines on what the data is and how it is going to be shared. Without standards data is just a jumble of numbers and letters.
As new Health Information Management professionals enter the job market, it is important to keep this information in mind while you are pursuing your career journey. This is part of why Medical Coding for Millennials was created. As a health information management professional, I accept the fact that I have my cert in Medical Coding… but I also see the value in knowing these technologies and using them to access and provide a picture of the patient story in the data we collecting in the profession.
For more information about HL7 and its application in healthcare check out these articles.
Do a google search on the term “Healthcare Programmer” and “Health Data Scientist” you will get some interesting responses. Some related to IT or IS systems, Some requiring Medical Coding knowledge. Usually or very rarely any information of how these two can intersect. If you are like myself continuing my journey into healthcare data has proven to be challenging.
The process of health data mining is known as Medical Coding or Abstracting. This is usually performed by individuals being assigned a specialty like Inpatient or Cardiology and assigning ICD 10 CM/PCS and/or CPT/HCPCS Classifications to interpret the patient medical record into a series of numbers computers can understand. Abstracting the medical record is necessary in healthcare today because of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services require it of hospitals and physician practices to demonstrate compliance. As of current, it is largely manual in nature. . Although EHR vendors tout to have made the process electronic, it usually requires APIs to work efficiently. If you are transitioning into this industry, be prepared for this. Especially if you plan on being employed in any Machine Learning or Automation process. All aspects of this field require some sort of clinical knowledge.
Most health data analytics roles want staff who know SQL or Access or another RDMS system. They also want to know you can Visualize the data into meaningful information using Tableau. This is especially valuable today because so many hospitals need this information to recover lost finances and claim Denials are an easy trend to measure. Some of these trends do require some clinical experience like a Nurse Informatics role or a Nurse Auditing role. You might be able to negotiate if you have a clinical documentation certification (CCDS or CDIP).
As health information technology continue to challenge the scope of practice, continue to evaluate and ask where the next 10 years will take you. Any technological advancement requires consistent change and commitment to growth. Take that as a challenge and come along for the ride and show those recruiters what you can do!