AHIMA more tech-centric than ever

Data, mobility, interoperability, security, EHRs, data standards, ICD-10, governance all part of the convention
By Bernie Monegain
08:29 AM
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AHIMA heads to San Diego for its 86th convention.

The 86th AHIMA Convention & Exhibit, which takes place Sept. 27-Oct. 2 in San Diego, promises to offer its biggest technology splash yet.

IT will be featured in ways big and small throughout the event.

The opening ceremony on Monday morning introduces Nate Harding, CEO and co-founder of Ekso Bionics. Harding is also a co-inventor of the company's core exoskeleton technology – body-external, dynamic full-body scaffolds.

Harding will discuss how the technology in healthcare has benefitted U.S. soldiers – and others – who have survived spinal cord injuries and stroke or lower extremities weaknesses.

Also slated on Monday are an update on the state of the organization from AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon and a federal update from Karen DeSalvo, MD, the national coordinator for health information technology.

[See also: AHIMA launches global workforce council.]

Continuing the technology theme is Eric Topol, cardiologist and chief academic officer at Scripps Health in San Diego. Topol, who also goes by the title of healthcare futurist, is known for promoting technology as a way to improve health and healthcare.

"You really want to see it; it's very impactful," Deborah Green, executive vice president and COO of AHIMA, told Healthcare IT News. "On the digital technology side, he's known for demonstrating personal device monitoring and ways that patients can use technology that's out there for monitoring key aspects of their physiology, then share that with their primary care physicians and specialists too. It's very interesting to watch. He's very engaging, and an extremely interesting and entertaining speaker."

Later in the day on Monday, Topol will participate in a one-on-one interview with Todd Cooper, executive vice president of the Center for Medical Interoperability.

Green expects Cooper will ask about digital innovation, personal monitoring, wireless connectivity and how data gets into the electronic health record.

"How does that get into the hands of the physicians, so that it can be recorded and used in containing patient care?" Green said.

[See also: AHIMA embraces history, looks to future.]

Doug Fridsma, MD, outgoing chief scientist at ONC – and soon to be CEO of AMIA – will also offer a presentation on interoperability. Also slated are sessions on data standards, EHRs – improving the integrity of information that comes from EHRs, and a session on accessing and managing clinical images in an EHR. The convention will also tackle topics such as health information exchange, meaningful use, privacy and security, data analytics, coordination of care and clinical documentation improvement.

This year the convention offers a track on technology and one dedicated to interoperability, Green noted.

That's not to say that AHIMA is any less devoted to its main mission: health information management. There's a track on that topic, too, of course. The sessions will take a close look at how the HIM field is evolving.

"Certainly technology is the infrastructure that enables the capture, the storage, the movement, the availability of the information," Green said. "But, of course, the technology does not guarantee the integrity of the information itself. That's the distinction in terms of the role of AHIMA, in terms of really being focused on information integrity, availability, reliability and usefulness."

ICD-10 clock is ticking
Green expects ICD-10 to generate plenty of buzz, as it has over the past several years.

"You're going to see a lot of sessions, a lot of presentations on ICD-10 – a lot of that focused on implementation and what to expect in those early weeks and months in implementation, during the final days of preparation, but also the technology around ICD-10," she said.

The convention has slated four education tracks on ICD-10.

And what is the mood regarding ICD-10?

The yearlong delay disappointed AHIMA members, Green said, but the initial disappointment is over, and people seem to be raring to go.

"You hear of a lot of organizations that are doing dual coding so that they are practicing ICD-10 while they are still coding using the system that has to be in place until we move to ICD-10," she said. "So I would say people are committed to being prepared.

"Of course, some people wonder whether or not there are further delays to be seen," Green added. "That's why we want to keep attention on the fact that ICD-10 does matter and that any further delay could be very detrimental, and the organizations are ready, coders are ready for ICD-10, and there's no reason to delay it past this October."