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AHIMA Happenings

Patient matching, cited as a frequent and serious patient safety and privacy issue, was the focus a town hall meeting at the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA) 85th Annual Convention and Exhibit in Atlanta.

Health information management (HIM) professionals work to ensure patient safety and privacy through quality information in medical records. To maximize the safety and security of patient medical records, steps must be taken to ensure the proper matching of healthcare information in the electronic health record (EHR) and in the process of health information exchange (HIE).

"Although the nation's healthcare community is moving forward for the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchange (HIE) capabilities, there is a growing sense of urgency to develop a national approach and strategy to effectively deal with ongoing and significant challenges regarding patient matching. The mismatch between patients and their clinical data is a serious and growing patient safety issue," said Meryl Bloomrosen, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA, AHIMA's vice president of thought leadership, practice excellence and public policy.

Participants at AHIMA's town hall discussed:
• What technological and organizational considerations affect accurate patient matching
• What approaches organizations are using to achieve accurate patient matching
• What the top three barriers and/or risks are to attain and secure the integrity of patient matching for healthcare and how can they be mitigated

"HIM professionals are on the front lines in dealing with patient matching," said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. "This type of forum serves as a temperature gauge allowing members to learn and share. Our discussion will help AHIMA frame and inform future discussions with federal agencies and industry leaders. Patient matching is essential to avoid duplicate records and to reduce instances of incomplete or fragmented patient information. AHIMA and its members have longstanding experience dealing with patient matching work flow and process, nuances and pitfalls, and stand ready to provide lessons
learned. Accurate patient identification is foundational to the successful linking of patient records."

AHIMA Announces Support for Blue Button Initiative
Also at the Convention and Exhibit, AHIMA announced that it will embark on a campaign to encourage its Component State Associations and members to actively support the Blue Button Initiative to promote access to personal health records (PHRs).

The Blue Button is a national program that allows patients to view online and download their PHRs. Several U.S. government agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs, participate. The Blue Button program also has pledges of support from many stakeholders including providers, health plans and personal health record vendors. Organizations and sites that use the Blue Button allow consumers to download their health data and create medical histories, which can then be shared with all their healthcare providers.

"We're pleased to announce our support for this important national initiative, and we're certain our members will rally around more patient access to health information," Thomas Gordon said. "The Blue Button campaign aligns perfectly with AHIMA's mission of making health information available where and when it's needed."

This effort is part of AHIMA's strategic plan to engage consumers in their healthcare by actively participating in the capture and use of their health information. AHIMA's offers a website,, to provide patients with a plan for developing a personal health record, as well as information about the health information landscape. The support for the Blue Button campaign also ties into one of the components of AHIMA's strategic plan - advancing the public good.

"More than 80 million Americans are now able to access their health information through the Blue Button program," said Marsha Dolan, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA, co-chair of AHIMA's Consumer Engagement Council. "We're confident that with the support of AHIMA members, we can extend access to even more people."

Join AHIMA and Tweet about #PatientPower
AHIMA will host a Twitter chat with the AHIMA Board, invited guests, and the patient community on December 5, from 1-2 p.m. ET. The topic will be "Taking Control of Your Health Information." Spread the word to your colleagues, family, and friends. On December 5, join by logging in to Twitter or starting an account and searching for hashtag #PatientPower. Share your expertise and thoughts on personal health records, including why it is important to know what is in your health record, how to get access to your health information, and patient rights.

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Additional information from AHIMA

AHIMA Continues to Grow
Thomas Gordon announced that AHIMA's official membership number has now surpassed 71,000. That is a sizeable increase over the previous official number of 67,000.

AHIMA has experienced growth in its member ranks even through the recent economic recession, but growth rates have picked up consistently over the last couple years. Overall member growth in 2011 was 1.4 percent. That grew to 3.8 percent in 2012, and through the first three quarters of 2013 growth has reached 5.2 percent.

"As AHIMA's numbers continue to grow so should the association's ability to influence important industry initiatives and change," said Scott MacKenzie, CAE, senior director of member engagement and strategy at AHIMA.

The increase in membership can be attributed to several reasons. In July, a bylaws amendment adjusted the qualifications for being an AHIMA student member. More than 400 students who previously would not have qualified prior to that change have joined. The more than 3,000 other additions to the membership number reflect AHIMA's strategic focus of growing membership.

A larger percentage of new members working in consulting, clinical, and executive level roles reflects the addition by AHIMA of content and resources in the areas of information governance and informatics, as well as leadership and innovation.

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