Recruitment and Staffing Blog

HIM Leadership Calls for New Skills, New Style

The call and need of a new era is for greatness. Tapping into the higher reaches of human genius and motivation requires leaders to have a new mindset, a new skillset, and a new toolset.                                                                                                                                           —Stephen R. Covey

Gone are the days when the work of HIM professionals was restricted to a room filled with rows of paper charts. The world of HIM beyond traditional boundaries is ever expanding and rife with new possibilities. Our June post on “HIM Trends” highlighted evolving roles that require advanced education and management skills in areas including data analytics, information governance, quality assurance, privacy, security—the perfect segue into this month’s topic—HIM Leadership.

In addition, the AHIMA CSA Leadership Symposium, July 14-15, provided a backdrop for the focus on leadership. The purpose of the event was to “engage AHIMA and CSA leaders in strategic direction, envisioning the future, and leadership in the evolving HIM profession.” What changes are ahead for HIM job seekers and recruiters? How can healthcare organizations benefit from HIM leadership expertise?

HIM roles are increasingly distributed across disciplines, offering knowledge and versatile skill sets to areas including IT, compliance, quality, legal, revenue cycle, and more. HIM professionals understand the value of accurate and complete documentation and the importance of meeting quality measures required for value-based care. And they are keenly aware of the principles of information governance—such as accountability, transparency, integrity—that support clinical and financial outcomes.

These assets are reflected in a 2016 study supported in part by the AHIMA Foundation. The results showed that “HIM leaders are valued for HIM expertise in electronic health records, privacy, security, and coding; for being the center or heart of the organization; and for commonly valued leadership behaviors and skills including dependability, strategic planning, project management, listening ability, and fairness.”

Based on real-life data, the research emphasized the value of teamwork, communication, education, training, and leadership as a “reciprocal process” different from management activities. According to the study, “Management consists primarily of day-to-day activities, while leadership is visionary and needs to be expanded in the workday for the HIM leader to be successful.”

These findings offer guidance for job seekers and recruiters as HIM professionals make the shift to a broad range of leadership roles. HIM recruitment is more difficult than in the past. Recruiters must be aware of current challenges and emerging opportunities while seeking the best candidates to ensure successful, long-term placements.

AHIMA’s career map shows various paths to advanced and master positions along with links to the requirements for each. These include Chief Compliance Officer, Director of Risk Management, Chief Technology Officer, Compliance Auditor, Privacy Officer, and Director of Clinical Informatics.

As HIM professionals prepare for new roles, recruiters should seek candidates with skills and leadership experience in diverse areas—compliance, audits, IT, regulatory requirements, quality assurance, clinical documentation improvement, revenue cycle. Qualified professionals will have the ability to:

  • Build multidisciplinary teams
  • Create a culture of collaboration
  • Embrace and promote change
  • Communicate effectively, inspire and motivate others
  • Seek solutions aligned with organizational goals

In a related article on leadership style in healthcare, the author suggests that “times have changed and there is much more value on a leader who is open to listening to others and participating on a team….The team leadership model provides a framework in which team members can figure out the best way to work together to accomplish their goals.”

Opportunities to lead exist at every level, regardless of job title. Each voice contributes to our collective knowledge base—our ability to make a difference. In this time of transition and uncertainty in healthcare, HIM professionals can bring the true value of leadership to their organizations.

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