The Professions

Definition of the Profession

Health Information Management Professional

The health information management professional applies their knowledge and skills to create, acquire, analyse and/or manage information to meet the medical, legal, ethical and/or administrative requirements of the health care system.

The HIMAA Health Information Manager (HIM) Competency Standards define the knowledge and skills required of a health information management professional. A health information management professional may apply some or all of the HIMAA Health Information Manager (HIM) Competency Standards in their daily professional practice.

Two examples of health information professionals are Health Information Managers (HIM) and Clinical Coders (CC).

Health Information Manager (HIM)

A Health Information Manager (HIM) is a health information management professional with a HIMAA-accredited undergraduate or postgraduate university degree who plans, develops, implements and manages health information services, such as patient information systems, and clinical and administrative data, to meet the medical, legal, ethical and administrative requirements of health care delivery, or who teaches or does research in these areas .

A Health Information Manager meets all of the HIMAA Entry Level Health Information Manager (HIM) Competency Standards as a result of their HIMAA accredited tertiary education.

A Health Information Manager may apply some or all of the HIMAA Intermediate and Advanced Health Information Manager (HIM) Competency Standards depending on their experience and professional development.

Clinical Coder (CC)

A Clinical Coder is a health information management professional who is a graduate of a HIMAA-approved clinical coding course or a HIMAA-accredited tertiary course who assigns codes to narrative descriptions of patients’ diseases, operations and procedures in accordance with recognised classification systems to allow for easy storage, retrieval and analysis of health data.

A Clinical Coder specialises in a subset of the HIMAA Entry Level Health Information Manager (HIM)Competency Standards.

HIMAA’s Role

The Health Information Management Association of Australia promotes and supports health information management professionals as the universally recognised specialists in information management at all levels of the healthcare system. We do this through positioning and advocacy, accreditation, education and training, certification and credentialing, quality standards, publications and resources, and HIMAA membership networking activities at local and national levels, including an annual national conference of international standing.

History of HIMAA

The Health Information Management Association of Australia Limited, (HIMAA) began in 1949 as the New South Wales Association of Medical Records Librarians and the Victorian Association of Medical Librarians. In 1955, the Australian Federation of Medical Records Librarians (AFMRL) was established.

The profession continued to grow, which prompted constitutional change. In 1975, the AFMRL became the Medical Record Association of Australia.

In the 1980s, the profession experienced rapid growth. This led to the establishment of a number of specialist undergraduate health information management degrees in several Australian universities.

An increase in the importance of clinical coding through the development of the casemix funding model over this period led HIMAA to address the shortage in clinical coding workforce by introducing in 1990 distance education for Clinical Coders at the Vocational Education & Training (VET) level. This led to the emergence of the discrete occupation of Clinical Coder with a VET level career path independent of the degree-level Health Information Manager. In 1992 HIMAA also introduced the accreditation of HIM degrees for graduate professional entry, based on HIMAA industry-recognised HIM Competency Standards. In 1996 HIMAA’s Clinical Coder Competency Standards were also published.

Mindful of the increased importance of the profession, in October 1996, members voted in favour of proposed changes to the Association’s constitution. The Association was re-incorporated as a national company – the Health Information Management Association of Australia Limited.

In 2013, in order to incorporate the occupation of Clinical Coder formally into HIMAA’s governance structure, the Association introduced a new membership category with almost identical rights to the Full Member status reserved for qualified Health Information Manager, the Senior Associate Member.

The following year HIMAA revised its definition of the HIM profession to identify Clinical Coder and Health Information Manager as foundation occupations. Health Information Workforce Summits led by HIMAA in 2015 and 2016 consolidated the acute workforce crisis facing the HIM profession due to the dual impact of eHealth and Activity Based Funding developments nationally.

Today HIMAA, a Registered Training Provider since 2010, remains the largest national provider of VET-level education and training in clinical coding, and is the only professional association to accredit higher education in health information management. HIMAA is developing professional practice standards to help the profession underpin its standing in the workforce.