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  • What is Health Information Management?

    Author: HealthTimes

Health information management makes a vital contribution to healthcare planning, clinical research and legal, and management decision making.

Health information management is made up of two main job streams, Health Information Managers and Clinical Coders, and it has become the heart of the healthcare landscape bringing together all the elements around documentation, quality, data collection, data dissemination, planning and eHealth.

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What are Clinical Coders?

Clinical Coders are responsible for translating the clinical information about a patients’ stay in a healthcare facility into codes within a recognised classification system.

These codes allow information to be stored and analysed for funding, planning and research purposes. 

By ensuring accurate and comprehensive coding of a patients treatment, the clinical coder ensures the health facility receives the maximum government funding benefit possible (so a good clinical coder is invaluable to a healthcare facility).

What are Health Information Managers?

Health Information Managers (HIM) plan, manage and maintain health information systems including patient records and clinical and administrative information. The information they manage is vital to ensure a health service can make informed decisions on financial planning, case mix and quality of care.

Jennifer Gilder, President of the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA), says health information managers are ideally placed to ensure interactions between practitioners, patients and management work well.

“The flow of information across the health service requires integration at all levels as this is not only an efficiency issue; it is also a safety issue”, she says.

“The medical record and the health information contained within must be available at the right place at the right time; systems must be in place to ensure good health information flow and accuracy. 

The HIM will also ensure staff are educated and well versed in their roles for a smooth patient journey.”

The role of Health Information Managers is often broader than other administrative staff or even clinical staff, meaning there is a need for a wide range of skills and competencies on any given day.

Ms Gilder says “There is no such thing as an average day for a HIM. A HIM usually starts their day with a coffee that turns cold before they have a chance to finish it.

There may be meetings planned, data analysis to undertake, staff absentees to be addressed, research data to extract, privacy concerns to address, reporting to the CEO on the latest outliers in the ABF data, steering a member of the public or law enforcement through the privacy legislation around release of information, reviewing a new clinical coders work and dealing with the human resource issues that come up in a busy and large facility.”

Ms Gilder also says the issues a Health Information Manager confronts will vary depending on the size and complexity of the health facility, “HIMs in smaller facilities may also undertake the clinical coding and also wear the hat of the Privacy Officer and sometimes the Quality Manager.

In larger facilities there may be more specialisation with a HIM in charge of the health information service and HIMs undertaking roles advising on IT, eHealth development, Coding educators, coding managers, Medico-legal managers, and data analysists.”

Due to this breadth of knowledge, Health information managers are considered to be the subject matter expert in areas of administrative clinical function and applicable legislation and the ‘go-to’ for research, data analysis, privacy concerns and other factors relating to quality of care.  

How to become a Health Information Manager of Clinical Coder?

To become a Health Information Manager one must complete an accredited university qualification in Health Information Management or Health Informatics. Many Australian universities offer courses in Health Information Management including:

Once qualified, HIMs may choose to undertake professional credentialing with HIMAA which may lead to the individual becoming a Certified Health Information Practitioner or Certified Health Information Manager.

Health Information Manager Salaries

While salary can vary greatly between states and sectors, graduate level HIMs can expect to earn upwards of $60,000 with more senior roles attracting well over $150,000.


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