Adapt or disappear, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) warns as it presses its members to pursue advanced training with its Reality 2016 education initiative.
An associate's degree in coding isn't enough anymore as healthcare organizations adopt EHRs, ICD-10 and other technology, according to an article at the Journal of AHIMA.
"HIM profession leaders feel the industry has reached a point where loud sirens are necessary to ensure individuals take notice," associate editor Mary Butler writes.
As new roles emerge in data governance, clinical documentation, informatics, data analytics and management, HIM professionals who fail to add new skills face obsolescence or the prospect of missing out on these roles, which could go to nurses with bachelor's and master's degrees.
The article notes that nurses, pharmacists, and physical therapists elevate their minimum educational requirements and its time for HIM professionals to do so as well. "…having a master's degree--whether it's an MBA, in another technology-related field, or HIM—helps individuals demonstrate to potential and current employers that they are dedicated to learning more," the article states.
In addition to more technical skills, HIM pros should seek out curricula that will give them more business acumen, accounting and finance, as well as statistical and analytical skills, according to the article, which also cited the importance of "soft" skills. It also pointed to the need for more HIM faculty.
"The HIM department that we used to know in a hospital is going away," says Ellen Shakespeare Karl, academic director at the City University of New York's HIM program, citing increasing decentralization of those functions. HIM pros must lead the way in the management of all the electronic data being collected, she says.
Jobs in health informatics have increased 10 times faster than healthcare jobs overall, according to a report last summer from Boston-based consulting firm Burning Glass. It defined informatics jobs as positions that involved the collection, handling and processing of clinical information--from billing to quality assurance roles.
Meanwhile, the Health Information and Management Systems Society recently cited growth in the field of nursing informatics, with more roles requiring post-graduate training.
"Specifically with HIM, it's all around technology. And if you understand the data you oversee and the power of that data, and how you can help organizations make better patient decisions, business decisions, that's the key to really looking at your career moving forward," says Stephanie Drake, chief talent officer at the American Osteopathic Association.
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