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MSHIMA Newsletter
February 2015

President’s Address

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all are doing well and moving right along in your plans for the ICD10 implementation.  Don’t forget to send in any ICD10 news or events from your team you would like to share with the membership.  Much time and effort has been put into ICD10 and we have to continue to encourage one another as we get closer to the implementation.

The MSHIMA Hill Day event in Jackson in January was a great success.  Thanks to Ryan we were able to sit down with a few of the legislators and discuss Health Information Management and respond to their questions regarding the electronic medical record and the Health Information Exchange. We are thankful Representatives Toby Barker and Sherra Lane and Senator Angela Hill took the time to meet with us, as well as others that stopped by the MSHIMA booth.  I encourage you to participate next year.

Keep an eye on the agenda for the conference in June as we continue to finalize sessions and speakers.  We are looking forward to a great turn out this year.

We have several educational opportunities coming up and you will find details in this newsletter and on the website.

Until next time,

Phyllis Spiers, RHIT
MSHIMA President 2014-2015

New Member Webinar

AHIMA is always adding and improving tools and resources for our members. To ensure you make the most of your new AHIMA membership and are fully aware of the benefits you’re entitled to, a new member webinar will be held on Wednesday, March 11 from 1 – 2 p.m. CST. In this webinar, AHIMA staff orient you to our top member resources. Participate in a live Q&A portion too!  After the meeting, e-mail AHIMA’s Member Engagement Coordinator, Erin Duvic, to request a recorded version.

Link to register

Legislative Update: ICD10 Implementation the Top Focus for MSHIMA

By Ryan Kelly

One important responsibility of MSHIMA is to advocate for our members in Jackson and in Washington.  We have had the privilege this year of several very good conversations with lawmakers regarding the needs of the HIM profession. 

The first opportunity occurred in January with our annual Hill Day at the Mississippi State Capitol.  I was joined by board members Phyllis Spiers, Christy Roberts, Constance Walley, Lorie Mills, and Susan Perkins and elected officials Rep. Toby Barker (District 102), Rep. Sherra Lane (District 86), and Rep. Sam Mims (District 97) for an in-depth meeting to help explain the HIM profession and our desires moving forward.  These legislators are key leaders of the public health and human services committee in the state legislature.  At the top of discussion was ICD-10, a topic met with mixed reactions among the legislators.
Although ICD-10 is not a focus for legislation in Mississippi, but rather in Washington, it is still important that our state officials understand that our hospital and clinics are ready for the changeover.  The point was well taken, and they understood and acknowledged that MSHIMA is a state leader that can be used for consultation and discussion moving forward.

A second opportunity occurred in February when I traveled to Washington D.C. with a delegation of officials from Mississippi to discuss health policy.  Although the discussion dealt with a number of critical issues, ICD-10 was brought up and well understood to be important for advancing Mississippi, as well as the nation, forward.  There are several bills introduced in the House of Representatives for which we proposed support.  Moreover, we encouraged that ICD-10 not be delayed another year.

Congruent with our efforts is AHIMA’s efforts to encourage ICD-10 implementation.  Representatives from AHIMA spoke at a Congressional hearing in February to encourage that no further delays are presented for ICD-10.  The feeling is positive that full implementation will take place this year.

Thus far, 2015 has been a very good year for advocating for your needs as HIM professionals.  But, we would love to hear from you!  Please contact me anytime at and let me know your concerns or needs as professionals in Mississippi.

We thank you as always for your membership.  It is a privilege to represent HIM in Mississippi.


AHIMA Nomination Open Call

The Nominating Committee for AHIMA is looking for qualified Active members to fill the roles of AHIMA President/Chair-elect, three Directors for the Board of Directors,  two Commissioners on the Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM) and one Speaker-elect for the House of Delegates.   

Nominations for these positions are due March 31, 2015. The President/Chair-elect, Director, and CCHIIM Commissioner positions have three-year terms and the Speaker-elect has a two-year term beginning January 1, 2016. 

Members can review descriptions, duties, and qualifications for each of these elected positions on the Application to Serve Web page at as well as submit their application. The deadline to submit an application is March 31, 2015.

Industry professionals create framework for measuring HIT value

By Katie Dvorak, FierceHealtHIT

Healthcare professionals have created a framework for measuring health information technology with a goal of making "HIT evaluations more relevant to the current needs of the healthcare system," according to a paper published at the American Journal of Managed Care.

In the paper, sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the researchers--from RAND Health, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital--say that HIT should take into account three principles.

Those principles are:
  • Value includes costs and benefits: Value cannot be found through cost analysis alone, the report's authors say. While costs are important, they do not reveal what the health benefit to patients may be nor do they assess the potential benefits of the technology or system. Studies must be sure to measure both, they say.
  • Value accrues over time: New tools have short-term costs and long-term costs, and the same holds true for the benefits they provide. While capturing the impact of technology over the long term is not "feasible for any study," the authors say, a study must allow for enough time to show the upside of having the new tool compared to not having it.
  • Value depends on stakeholder's perspective: Perception varies from person to person and practice to practice, the authors say. This must be a consideration because differing opinions could impact conclusions about the value of the study. "Ideally, all evaluations of HIT would take the perspective of all relevant stakeholders," according to the paper.
"Making these changes may require especially imaginative study designs, and research teams that have both quantitative and qualitative expertise," according to the authors.

They also add that while making changes may not be easy, if "research is to align with the current needs of the healthcare system, researchers should take on this challenge and produce results that not only prove what is possible, but also show how to achieve it."

A majority of healthcare executives foresee a return on investment in population health management programs within three to four years, according to a recent survey by KPMG. Twenty percent of the 296 survey respondents expect investments in health IT, data and analytic tools to pay off in one or two years. Another 36 percent foresee such investments paying off in three to four years; 29 percent expect it to take five or more years. Only 14 percent do not expect to recoup their costs at all.

Still, doctors who use electronic health record systems are only slightly more likely than those who don't to receive the patient information they need for coordinated care, according to research recently published in Medical Care. For that study, researchers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality surveyed 4,500 office-based physicians and found that only about 33 percent used an EHR system and shared patient health information electronically. Thirty-nine of respondents had an EHR system but did not share patient data electronically, and about 25 percent did neither.

More Thorough Analysis of Health IT Adoption Needed, RAND Argues

by Gabriel Perna, Healthcare Informatics

Despite increasing adoption rates of electronic health records and other health information technology systems, a new RAND Corporation analysis argues that our knowledge about their value is not advancing.

Researchers from the RAND Corporation, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based nonprofit organization, say that studies have not done an adequate job evaluating health IT over longer periods of time to see its cost and benefit to patients. Most studies, RAND researchers say, have only looked at health IT adoption over a short period of time, which ignores downstream benefits.

“About a decade ago, RAND researchers estimated the potential for health information technology to reduce health care costs. Subsequently, the American health system invested a vast amount of money to speed adoption of health information technology. It is now time to thoroughly evaluate the pluses and minuses of those investments,” states Robert Rudin, lead author of the study and an associate policy researcher at RAND. “We propose a new set of standards for evaluation that will produce results likely to prove valuable to policymakers.”

Those standards would include a checklist examining the context and characteristics of health IT that are important to interpret results. Rudin and colleagues are seeking studies that determine “winners” and “losers” when health information technology is adopted.

Itawamba CC Trains HIT Professionals in North Mississippi

In 1997, Itawamba Community College in Fulton, MS decided that a new Health Information Technology Program would help to advance healthcare in the state.  They were right. 

Since its first graduating class of 6 in 1999, ICC now enjoys a class of 23 students.   Upon graduation with an Associate’s degree of applied science in health information technology (RHIT), these students will be eligible to sit for AHIMA’s registered technician exam to be a licensed professional. 

But it’s not just enough to graduate students.  ICC is working on evolving this program to meet the needs of their students and the healthcare profession.  The HIT program, led by program director Donna Vaughn, has developed new online courses that help to meet students’ needs with what is commonly referred to as a hybrid program. 

Lori Little, RHIA, is a faculty member with the program.  “We have traditional students, but most are non-traditional.  The hybrid program allows those students to work full-time and accomplish the educational goals that they set for themselves.”  Little mentioned that she and Vaughn are working on developing a variety of course tracks that may allow for a traditional, a hybrid, and possibly a fully-online platform for obtaining a degree.

A program in the Itawamba Community College’s Division of Health Sciences, students have the ability to work with other health-related programs in a multidisciplinary health care setting.  This interworking between professionals was stated to be a major benefit to the educational structure that ICC provides.

Students in the program are able to work with an electronic health record called Near Perfect.  This system provides a platform for students to get hands-on experience with an EHR as part of their educational coursework in order to simulate true-to-life functions of the EHRs used in Mississippi’s hospitals.

Graduates from the program are prepared for jobs including billing and coding, health privacy, medical analytics, EHR specialists, clinical documentation improvement, and revenue cycle management.  More advanced positions could include those such as risk management and compliance.

“Health Information is one of the top growing professions in the country and ICC helps to meet Mississippi’s needs,” states Little. 

For more information about Itawamba Community College’s Health Information Technology program, call 662.620.5239 or visit

Vendor Buzz: SouthData, Inc.

SouthData is a diverse company based just outside of Charlotte, NC.  Their scanning division, based out of Mobile, AL, is of particular interest to HIM professionals due to their great benefit in serving as a one-stop shop for document management.  As SouthData’s parent company has a core function of billing, the Scanning Division has diverse tools to assist hospital and clinics with their document storage needs.

SouthData can visit your facility and customize a package tailored to your individual needs.  Most packages include the scanning of both current and historical records.  Both records are integrated into the hospital or clinic’s EHR.  Older documents may be stored on a cloud-based content management storage system. 

The fee structure is simple.  Fees are charged per scan, and a low monthly fee is charged for any needed cloud-based storage. 

A further benefit to using SouthData is because of a new venture called Secure Release.  This software is web-based and allows providers to release patient records in a HIPAA compliant and cost-effective means.  Further, they can assist your clinic or hospital in turning “release of data” into an alternative revenue stream with no up-front cost.  Clients would simply request data, SouthData would process the request, the client would pay the requested fee for release, and your facility would receive the payment less a small percentage fee.

What sets SouthData apart?  Sales representative Brandon Johnson responds, “One thing that sets us apart from our competitors is that we elect to undergo HIPAA audits.  Our customers find our desire to seek out audits rather than respond to audits an extra comfort.”

With numerous clients in Mississippi, SouthData is ready to work for you.  To learn more, contact Brandon Johnson  at 251-327-3901.

Board Member Spotlight: Christy Roberts, RHIA, CHPS, MSHIMA President-Elect, 2014-2015

1. Name, Credential, Facility/Company
Christy E. Roberts, RHIA, CHPS and  I work at George Regional Health System in Lucedale, MS.  I have multiple roles with the organization.  I am the Director of HIM, Compliance and Privacy Officer.  We have an acute care and critical access hospital along with five physician offices in three counties.  I love the variety. 

2. How did you become interested in the HIM field?          
I started thinking about going to college my senior year of high school.  I happened to be at my grandmothers for the usual Sunday lunch and started talking about having difficulty picking a field.  My Aunt asked if I would be interested in what she did.  Of course I didn’t have a clue what she did at work.  At the time she was a transcriptionists with her RHT (now RHIT) credential.  She told me about the four year degree, and how it was different.  I guess I made a face when she said typing all day.  I took a field trip to look at Providence Hospital in Mobile, AL, and I was hooked.  I knew then that healthcare was my calling.  Everything about it felt like home.  I knew with this degree, I could live anywhere and pick my healthcare setting.  Perfection!

3. What are some of your goals for MSHIMA?       
I believe that Phyllis Spears has started making great strides to get our MSHIMA organization updated, branded and membership engaged.  I would like to see us continue to follow her lead and get more of our members involved.  It is really an honor to be chosen for a position on the board.  I like to compare it to my kids’ rodeo team, football team, Girl Scout troop, etc.  It may take a little time out of our already busy schedule, but it’s 100% worth it.  When you volunteer for MSHIMA or get involved with any other group/activity, you meet a diverse set of people.  You learn from them, become friends with them, and grow as a person or a professional.  No one can ever take that away from you.

4. What is your motto, either in life or work?          
My favorite motto is… The grass may be greener on the other side, but someone still has to mow the lawn!  So many times I hear people say, if we had this tool or if we had this software system everything would be wonderful.  The truth is that someone still has to take some action in order to get the job done.  Talk to your vendor, talk to your staff and figure out how to make the best of what you do have to work with.  I’m not saying that we never need new tools or software, but sometime people just want a fall guy.

5. What else would you like the MSHIMA membership to know about you?        
Where to start?  I have three wonderful, smart young ladies who keep me moving.  They range from a junior in college to a fourth grader.  I guess you could say we live on a ranch.  We have land, ponds, ponies, horses, cows, goats, dogs and cats.  My two youngest girls and myself all ride and compete in barrel races and rodeos.  I love the life lessons the horses and sport teaches them.  As for just myself, I also love to travel, sew, craft, garden, cook like crazy on rainy days, and play just dance on the Wii with my kids.  Life is good!

MSHIMA Silent Auction


We are gearing up for the Silent Auction at our annual convention in Hattiesburg this June.  We would like to challenge all Mississippi hospitals to donate a basket for the auction.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could get something from each hospital that highlights their facility or their area?  A little friendly competition is good for everyone, especially when it helps our students! If you would be interested in donating, or helping with the Silent Auction Committee, please contact Teresa Brown (601-835-9281) or Cynthia Chambliss.

Save the Date

MSHIMA Annual Convention
June 17-19, 2015
Lake Terrace Convention Center
Hattiesburg, MS

Agenda is available on our website at

Registration is now open!

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Upcoming Meetings

Visit the calendar

Clinical Documentation Improvement – Are you ready for ICD-10 and CMS Quality Initiatives
March 6, 2015
Tupelo, MS

2015 Annual Meeting
June 17-19, 2015
Hattiesburg, MS


On the Job Board

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Certified Coder Outpatient Services
Forrest General Hospital

Medical Office Coordinator
Hancock Medical

Health Information Director
Hancock Medical

Inpatient Medical Coder
Hancock Medical

RHIT/Coding & Billing
Premier Medical Group of Mississippi
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