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Health information management professionals foresee less coding in their futures

Health information management professionals believe proficiency in big data analysis, informatics and data mining will be more important for workers in their positions in the future than they are now. However, members of the same group — composed of 3,370 respondents to an AHIMA study — predict more of their workdays will be spent on teaching and leadership in the coming years, with less time spent on coding.

AHIMA conducted the study to determine the current role of health information management (HIM) employees in healthcare and assess what skills and education they will need to be successful years from now after their roles have shifted.

The authors of the study said that almost two-thirds of HIM employees presently do some work that involves coding. When asked to project their future workloads, respondents to the AHIMA study — 58% of whom were HIM professionals — indicated they will spend less time in the future than today on revenue, business analysis, privacy, analytics, and coding. Coding received the lowest ranking in terms of anticipated future workload.

Respondents likely expect their recent peak in coding responsibilities to diminish in the next few years after their organizations undergo the transition to ICD-10 codes on Oct. 1, 2015. Coding also came in last place, after records processing and administrative duties, where the survey asked what skills would be more valuable to have in the following years in comparison to now. The opinions of employers were solicited as part of AHIMA’s study, and they agreed with the HIM respondents that coding is a beneficial skill in today’s health IT environment, but that its value will decrease in the years to come.

Unsurprisingly, respondents ranked privacy and security, EHR management and data integrity among the most important present and future HIM-related competencies. More versatile capabilities, such as critical and analytical thinking and problem solving, checked in near the top of the list of useful talents for HIM employees to possess now and 10 years down the road.