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HIM Leadership

Posted on February 25, 2016 I Written By

Erin Head is the Director of Health Information Management (HIM) and Quality for an acute care hospital in Titusville, FL. She is a renowned speaker on a variety of healthcare and social media topics and currently serves as CCHIIM Commissioner for AHIMA. She is heavily involved in many HIM and HIT initiatives such as information governance, health data analytics, and ICD-10 advocacy. She is active on social media on Twitter @ErinHead_HIM and LinkedIn. Subscribe to Erin's latest HIM Scene posts here.

Healthcare leadership is not for the faint of heart; this is especially true in these rapidly changing times we are experiencing in healthcare. There are many different moving parts involved in not only providing medical care but in the important behind the scenes tasks that keep healthcare operations running smoothly. Health Information Management responsibilities are part of these important tasks as they cover many different, multi-layered tasks that are governed by strict laws and guidelines within hospitals, physician practices, and other healthcare roles.

Throughout the day, an HIM leader’s conversation can quickly shift between coding and revenue cycle to physician documentation and workflow to scanning records and analyzing reports to releasing information and HIPAA compliance and everything in between. We have to have a thorough understanding of all of these areas and how they overlap with other departments and providers. Of course, none of these responsibilities occur in a consistent or predictable manner on any given day.

By nature, I am a sorter and an organizer and I feel content when everything has a place. But when my daily responsibilities jump around chaotically, I start to squirm a little. Some days I can’t even begin to jot down a to-do list with prioritization because everything is urgent and important and everything is needed now. My point is not to complain about having too much to do but rather to successfully accept all of the responsibility and strategize around it. One of my favorite quotes reminds us:


The key is to never try to do it all alone. It is not a good idea to try to do everything yourself just because it seems there is no time to train others. Having a great team to support your goals is absolutely critical. Hiring skilled HIM professionals and delegating important tasks to them will create an outlet for these professionals to use their skills and creativity to explore new ways to get the job done. The end result is typically a win-win for HIM professionals, HIM leaders, and organizational performance. Another great quote says:


This is definitely the key to successfully accomplishing goals and objectives when they seem overwhelming and numerous. We must work smarter not harder; especially when teams are shorthanded.

I know this is probably nothing new to those in similar HIM leadership roles but it always helps to hear that you are not alone. There are probably never going to be perfect days where everything works smoothly and everything fits into its proper place. Tackle all of those tasks as best you can, delegate the responsibility, encourage teamwork, and share in the success.

If you’d like to receive future HIM posts by Erin in your inbox, you can subscribe to future HIM Scene posts here.

Can Silo-ed Leadership Work Together Effectively?

Posted on November 30, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

All week I’ve been chewing on David Chou’s recent article about running health care IT as a business. David makes a pretty solid case for why hospital CIOs should become essentially the CEO of the hospital IT business. There’s a lot of value in a leader taking that type of responsibility and forward thinking approach to their organization. However, it can also lead to some interesting challenges.

This concept has been extended as I’ve attended the RSNA (radiology) conference in Chicago. Many of the same messages are being shared with radiologists about leading their organization and about being proactively involved with the patient. You could say that radiologists are being encouraged to run their departments as if they’re CEO of the radiology department.

While this seems like sound advice it should also come with a partial caution. If you’re not careful this can lead to a lot of conflict between various fiefdoms. Everyone feels like they’re the “CEO” and so that ownership and leadership can make it hard for them to work with others. It takes a really powerful leader to bring together department heads who see themselves as CEOs.

A great example of the consequences of this silo-ed leadership is illustrated by what we call shadow IT. For those not familiar with shadow IT, it’s IT purchases and implementations that happen outside of IT. It essentially operates in “the shadows” as opposed to out in the open. This is often purchased with department budget and is usually some sort of hosted application and so departments are able to implement their IT project without the involvement of the main IT organization.

A department head that felt like CEO of their department would have little to no issue with a shadow IT purchase. They rationalize that they can’t wait for IT because if they wait for IT it will never get done. In fact, going around IT seems like the right option since it gets them access to a tool or technology that they need to provide better patient care. That’s what you should want your leaders to do no? Provide the best patient care possible.

Unfortunately, shadow IT has lots of challenges. For example, did they think about the long term cost of supporting the shadow IT system? Did they ensure that the shadow IT system met all the HIPAA security requirements? Did they vet the vendor to ensure that they would be a good long term choice? etc etc etc.

It’s a real challenge for these internal “CEOs” to balance the needs of their department against the needs of the organization as a whole. Many times they’ll get it wrong and it will be lock the gears of an engine or clock that aren’t aligned quite right. It can grind things to a halt. However, with the right leader in place, all of the gears can be leaders within their own departments while still working together nicely with all the other leaders around you.

Isn’t that the real challenge of leadership? Get everyone on board with the same vision, but leave them enough flexibility that they can surprise you with their results.