Finding purpose through meaningful work has been on the minds of many lately. Purpose, essential to organizational development and the lifeblood of the human heart as it relates to the whole organizational body system, is what makes life meaningful. Often, health care workers enter the health care field because they love to help people and contribute to enhancing a patient’s care. A health information management director is one occupation within health care that can offer that sense of purpose.
This week’s blog post offers five pieces of advice for a new H.I.M. director from five skilled H.I.M. directors in the health care industry.
Choosing to be an H.I.M. Director
There are several reasons one would choose to be an H.I.M. director. One appealing reason is that they are provided with opportunities to grow and help others grow as the health care landscape changes and technology and applications advance. Another reason is its variety. One day you could be attending several back-to-back committee meetings discussing policies or an upcoming electronic medical record implementation project; the next, investigating a potential medical identity theft or breach regarding a patient’s medical records; and next, collaborating with a physician or the executive team regarding documentation and revenue.
Teamwork Means Success
All new H.I.M. directors are somewhat under a microscope when working with staff, and one of the best ways to make it a smoother transition and earn respect simultaneously is to lead by example. Executives need to see the H.I.M. director as someone who can manage a team. Each person on the team adds value and divides the work. Cassandra Lewis, the Senior H.I.M. Operations Director at St. Joseph Medical Center in Houston, TX, points out, “When you’re in management, you have to realize you can’t do it alone.” Productivity is optimized and operations are most efficient. Lewis adds, “. . . create a team environment where you are directing, guiding, equipping, involving, and actively listening to your staff.”
Today’s H.I.M. directors are not simply focusing on managing people and day-to-day operations; however, they are additionally working to eliminate unconscious gender bias and promote diversity and inclusion within their teams. Staff needs to see the H.I.M. director as a trusted confidant and mentor. Lewis further states, “I believe people will follow their leader when you show them you care.”
Integrity on the Job
H.I.M. directors are highly trained in the business aspects of health care, including overseeing the integrity of all clinical and financial data. “For H.I.M. directors to ensure the integrity of medical records, they too should have integrity,” suggests Neal Coke, the H.I.M. Director at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, TN. “Integrity is of utmost importance when it comes to building strong rapport and productive relationships with staff, peers, executives, customers, and the director’s boss,” Coke adds.
Build Rapport the Right Way
Internal and external customers need to know that an H.I.M. director’s word is not only about making promises but living up to them. Coke states, “Even if the appropriate solution to a question has yet to be determined, a simple call or email to say that you are still working on it will earn a great deal of respect and build rapport.”
Lerisa Wright, the H.I.M. Director at Odessa Regional Medical Center in Odessa, TX, states, “It’s important to develop relationships with your staff, providers, and other department heads . . . communication is the key to a successful H.I.M. career.” An H.I.M. director needs to be skilled in communication with all levels of management and staff.
Steady Changes are Good
According to AHIMA, . . . at an unprecedented pace, the electronic health record (E.H.R.) has spurred a revolutionary change in H.I.M. that’s modifying the profession as each day passes.8 Lisa Kellogg, H.I.M.S. Chief for the V.A. Medical Center in Las Vegas, NV, says, “Many places keep things the way they’ve always been done. Don’t be afraid of change.” Even with this kind of pressure, it’s important, Kellogg states, “just take it slow enough for your employees to adjust to the changes instead of changing fast.” Making changes too quickly can increase errors and cause staff burnout.
H.I.M. directors possess and flex a broad spectrum of knowledge that encompasses medical, financial, business, law, quality, privacy and security, and the most up-to-date technologies in health care. They are the police officers of a patient’s health records, ensuring they are accessible according to laws and regulations, comprehensive, reliable, and secure always. Additionally, Bibi Von Malder, Corporate Director, H.I.M. at Signature Healthcare in Brockton, MA, states, “They are responsible for ensuring that providers and other stakeholders can access health information that is accurate and complete when and where they need it.” Von Malder, adds, “It is a very rewarding career [because] you are involved in many facets of H.I.M., and I would encourage new H.I.M. directors to network with veteran H.I.M. directors and expand their knowledge even beyond their own facilities.”
If you can apply excellent communication, relationship building, and change management leadership skills, you enjoy networking, and integrity is one of your core drivers, becoming the next generation H.I.M. director in this rewarding career field may lead you to the purposeful life you seek.
For more information about H.I.M and other topics check out MRA’s Educational Series.
1-3. Lewis, C. (2022, January 26). Personal communication [text].
4-6. Coke, N. (2022, January 26). Personal communication [email].
7. Wright, L. (2022, January 26). Personal communication [text]
8. Dimick, Chris. “Health Information Management 2025: Current “Health IT Revolution” Drastically Changes HIM in The Near Future.” Journal of AHIMA 83, no.8 (August 2012): 24-31.
9-10. Kellogg, L. (2022, January 24). Personal communication [text]
11-12. Von Malder, B. (2022, January 21). Personal communication [email]