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Footprints Newsletter
December 2016

Inside This Issue:

President’s Message

Happy Holidays NCHIMA members! We are wrapping up 2016 and shall we say, “Out with the Old and In with the New!” A new year brings new things, new adventures, and new opportunities. Sometimes to find and uncover new things, we must reassess ourselves, in a nutshell, See Yourself!

We should ask ourselves, “How can we evaluate ourselves today to prepare for tomorrow?”

To begin this process, there are certain things that we know are happening:
  1. The healthcare industry as a whole is moving at a tremendous pace
  2. Payment for hospital services under fee for service is shifting to quality
    • Population Health Management is the ultimate goal for patients
    • Commercial payers usually follow suit with government initiatives
  3. The audit climate continues to be high across all payers
  4. Obtaining, interpreting, and analyzing data is more important than ever
  5. The need to secure, share, and safeguard information is paramount
  6. Information is in the cloud
  7. Information Governance, Informatics and Data Analytics are becoming a core component of healthcare change
  8. The many areas that make up HIM are competitive and in demand
  9. We want to remain relevant
As you know, self-assessment involves determining your strong suits, understanding your weak areas, and seeking out ways to improve on and highlight those things. Certainly we know we can educate ourselves and obtain certifications to emphasize areas in which you have special skills but one of the main ways is connecting yourself with people and going the extra mile. I often remember hearing others say, “We can’t do that” or ignoring a request for help. Accepting these challenges at times can show your initiative and expertise. In the current remote environment it is more difficult to be noticed and seen as the unique individual you are. Be exemplary in what you do and it can pay off for your future through gaining more experience and showing your value.

AHIMA has a number of career self-assessments but you can also just take a look at this very simply. If you had a goal of becoming an IG Officer you may list the items below. These things could help you improve in your current role or a future role.

As I and NCHIMA Executive Board members reiterate, volunteering can show your ability and offer you unique education and connections. Consider this as we need volunteers more than ever to stay ahead of change.

Please take a moment to peruse the new and improved NCHIMA Student Webpage. We congratulate the Publications Team lead by Leola Burke in taking on this initiative. Our incoming President-Elect, Pamela Lail, along with our Executive Director, Ralph Morrison has also been very instrumental in making this happen this year. We have been fortunate to have student members, Rolliene Mallari and new member, Elizabeth Baker as a part of the team. Exciting stuff!

NCHIMA is pleased to tell you about boosting our giving campaign for student’s scholarships through two initiatives:
  1. To better support those of you within our state who wish to further your career through education, NCHIMA is proud to partner with the AHIMA Foundation to administer our dollars for scholarship opportunities. The dollars contributed through the AHIMA Foundation will be distributed to our state for awarding of scholarships to our student members. NCHIMA is currently investigating a scholarship offering for educators along with those already offered for those attending a Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIM) accredited program. Please review and consider making a donation to help change the life of a student.
  2. Over the past couple of years we have had the silent auction as a part of the Annual Meeting. NCHIMA has utilized the dollars raised during the auction to give back to our students through the scholarship. This year we are collecting items for the silent auction. If you would like to donate an item for auction please contact or to facilitate this process.
Thanks in advance for thinking of our future!

Enjoy your holidays and Reassess for the New Year!

HIM professionals Reset, Recharge and Stay Calm…

By: Sharon Easterling, MHA, RHIA, CCS, CDIP, FAHIMA
NCHIMA President 2016-2017

Focus Groups

As part of NCHIMA initiatives to meet the goals of our Strategic Plan and continually improve ourselves, we have held Environmental Scan Focus Groups since November of this year. The Strategic Planning Team lead by Kris McCall have held 1 hour calls with members that signed up for the groups during the survey last year. We are very pleased to say we have experienced tremendous success with these interactions. In fact, we have already changed some processes based on membership recommendations and discussion. Collaboration and heightened awareness can make such a difference in how we interact and do business. If you signed up and missed it, you have missed a valuable opportunity to network and share your thoughts and vision. Be on the lo0kout for the final meetings and a HUGE THANKS to our participants thus far.

  • Advocacy and Leadership
  • Information Governance
  • Education and Workforce
  • Coding and CDI (Clinical Documentation Improvement)
  • NCHIMA Strategic Planning Committee

The NCHIMA Mentorship Program

INTRODUCING: The new Mentorship Program! We have created the program to help NCHIMA members in all stages of their development as Health Information Management professionals. 

We are invested in your success!

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: We need experienced professionals to mentor others! If you want to learn more about the program, please visit: or email us at:

What in the World in a Data Scientist?

By: Pamela J. Lail, MHA, RHIA, CHDA, PMP, FAHIMA

A data scientist is a person who excels at recognizing patterns and trends in data. This person has experience in statistics, market economics, informatics, analytics, software programming, project management, and experience in healthcare. The data scientist understands the regulatory pressures in healthcare and how healthcare organizations comply with regulations. You may be thinking right now, “Does someone with these varied skillsets actually exist?” Yes, the data scientist is usually a professional with a masters or PhD in an IT or mathematics field that specializes in pulling data from software systems, building platforms to display the data, recognizing trends/patterns in the data, coming up with a plan to address problems found in the reporting produced, and working with the end users to drive changes across the organization to improve operations and data capture. This is typically a masters or PhD level employee due to the staggering amount of information over different domains that the employee must have to be successful in this role.

A business or data analyst is the transitional role used in this situation but they can only carry out part of the process because they are either business experts or IT experts (not both). The formal training typically includes a healthcare domain, application management, data modeling, informatics, and analytics. The person in this role will need to have a strong business acumen as well as the ability to communicate findings to both business and IT leaders in a clear and concise manner. A good data scientist will pick areas to focus on that have the most meaning for the organization. The data scientist may understand the healthcare domain as a whole but they are expected to either have an in-depth understanding of clinical operations or revenue cycle operations for a healthcare entity. The professionals filling these roles will often want an understanding of Health Information Management so that they can understand the information that is important to maintaining the patient record, the retention criteria around specific data sets, and the value or meaning of the data.

A data scientist should be inquisitive and be able to spot trends in the data simply by having an understanding of what the data means. This person should be able to address business problems by offering creative solutions to solve the root cause of the problem through collaboration with domain experts. This is a blend of project management understanding and informatics/analytics. A data scientist evaluates an issue from many angles, looks for the hidden meaning behind the results, and then provides an interpretation to others in the business so that they may understand the outcome as well.  

Data scientists are not shy about asking questions, running the data through “what if” scenarios, questioning existing assumptions and processes in order to better understand the business, the users, and/or the data. When the results from a problem have been confirmed, a senior data scientist will then communicate the process, results, and root cause of the inconsistency across the organization to the leadership structure and work with strategic planning representatives in the target area to devise a plan to ensure the abnormality does not happen again.

A data scientist collects data from external government, state, and local agencies for data to use as a benchmark on statistical or economic comparisons, works with co-workers to build models incorporating this data, and then validates the veracity of the data in comparison to healthcare financial indicators. This might be a comparison between how geographical regions distribute resources, such as human labor and capital in healthcare, in comparison to your organization’s geographical footprint. The data scientist will then prepare market analysis reports based on these indicators for the affected department leadership.  This is integrating the statistical and market economic knowledge to show how your organization compares to other organizations and if you are conducting business in an efficient manner.

This seems like a lot for one person to handle but these folks are multi-talented experts and usually work in groups to attack problems. A colleague recently suggested that these folks are like finding a unicorn in today’s environment which is why you should always hire at least two data scientists in your organization. These highly intelligent and talented individuals can get frustrated by organizational roadblocks’ (such as getting developer access to software platforms) considering the scope of what they work on so it helps if they have someone who understands their experience to bond with. Data scientists are not necessarily HIM professionals but they must have knowledge of business intelligence and data analytics associated with patient health information to be successful in their domain which means pursuing the CHDA (Certified Health Data Analyst) credential through AHIMA. This is a natural progression for HIM professionals as well since we natively must have knowledge of healthcare delivery (start to finish), revenue cycle operations, informatics/analytics, how software platforms operate, and the appropriate meaning/use of information we use and work with on a daily basis.

This role is new to healthcare so most healthcare organizations that I have talked to are building their own data scientists through different methods. One site is sending their best and brightest HIM professionals, with aptitudes in math and IT disciplines, back to school to fill in the areas needed to fill the role. Another site has broken the job descriptions down to separate roles for a project manager, IT business analyst, a software developer, a healthcare economist/mathematician, and clinical/financial experts in healthcare which they claim to be a cheaper model (and easier to find employees to fill the role). The hope here is that all of these individuals will work together in a pod to fill the role of a data scientist. A few sites are going to hire outside services to fill this need. Healthcare is new to the data analytics/business intelligence party so we have to be careful of working with vendors until they have a reputation in our field.  At a business intelligence conference in February of this year, a BI vendor was showing me a lovely program for weather and traffic data but when I questioned the security around the system it was revealed that there was none. The vendor was very knowledgeable about analytics in general but did not understand the privacy/security concerns of healthcare. How are you filling this role in your organization?  Are HIM professionals going in to these roles? HIM professionals still need to be on the forefront of these changes to ensure that the process and the end product are treating patient health information correctly.​

Scholarship Opportunities

NCHIMA is proud to partner with the AHIMA Foundation to administer our dollars for scholarship opportunities. The dollars contributed through the AHIMA Foundation will be distributed to our state for awarding of scholarships to our student members. Students have to attend a Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIM) accredited program.

Member Spotlight

Lisa Daughtry


  1. What initially drew you to this particular profession?
  2. What are your future plans?
    * Does it include further education or certifications in the Health Information Management (HIM) field?
  3. How did you decide this field was a good fit for you?
  4. What advice would you present to those considering entering the HIM profession?

While in college back in the 80s, I was employed by St. Francis/Roper in Charleston, SC as an EKG Technician. Afterwards after securing a BA in French, I joined my family business harboring a desire to return to “anything medical” for many years. Finally, in 2003 with a little girl, I returned to school thinking Surgical Technology would be fun but after following the advice of a school counselor, he combined my love of medical sciences along with teaching computer applications at the time along with website design and encouraged the Health Information Technology program at Edgecombe Community College. Upon graduation in 2005, I acquired the RHIT, CCS, & CDIP credentials and am an AHIMA Certified ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer. My career roles have included OP/IP coder, CDIS, IP Coding Supervisor, and currently Coding Educator for WakeMed Health & Hospitals where my passion remains very strong and loyal.  In between, I have taught ICD-9, CPT, and Medical Terminology on the community college level as well as water aerobics! Education is truly my passion and I hope to serve in this capacity for many years to come. We all benefit with consistent and continuous education on all levels of clinical documentation, coding, & medical topics within the scope of ICD-10.

One big dream I have had for the last 12 years was to finally attend the AHIMA National Convention one day and this year was the year. It was fantastic to put names to faces of some of the greatest HIM heavy hitters and meet so many wonderful and passionate people from our arena. This is where the AHA EAB came into play when I met Anita Rapier at the convention in Baltimore and expressed great interest in volunteering with Coding Clinic. Everything started falling into place at that golden moment and upon return, Nelly Leon-Chisen reached out to me so here we are. Monday November 14th I was appointed to serve a two-year term on the Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) with the American Hospital Association and will humbly and gratefully be serving on this board in Chicago & Baltimore over the course of 2 years starting in January 2017.
Many coders and CDI alike have reached out to me asking about this career and several have expressed interest in going so far as to say, “I want to be just like you in my career!” After asking if they have lost their complete minds, I remind them that one surely can if one never gives up, gets back up after failures, learns from all mistakes, keeps smiling through the tears, and believes…just believes. Following my passion and giving my all to this career that I love so much only shows that the sky is the limit. If one door closes, I promise another one opens…always.
Currently serving as Coding Educator for WakeMed in Raleigh, our great coding, CDI, & management teams work tirelessly & passionately with steering this ship forward into the ICD-10-CM/PCS transition and its many nuances. I work with such a dedicated & collaborative team of OP/IP coders, a phenomenal CDIS team, and an extremely supportive management team. Hats go off to my managers & huge supporters, Peggy Haggerty, Kim Yelton, Kelly Guthrie, and Becky Andrews, for believing in me and allowing me this opportunity. And I cannot go without giving the biggest shout out to my greatest supporter, cheerleader, & encourager, my dear husband Alan whom I married this past April. It is an honor to be elected to serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of Coding Clinic with the American Hospital Association on behalf of my employer as well as NCHIMA, our state association. As humbled as I feel to have this opportunity, it is important to express that this has nothing to do with me and everything to do with us.  I am humbled to be selected to serve us in the Coding and CDI communities and to especially be able to give back to others what has so freely been given to me.

Student Member Spotlight

Elizabeth Baker    
Master of Science in Physics

Aspiring to enter the field of Health Informatics
Graduate Assistant at East Carolina University                     
NCHIMA Publications Committee Member 2016-2017
  1. What initially drew you to this particular profession?
  2. What are your future plans?
     * Does it include further education or certifications in the Health Information Management (HIM) field?
  3. How did you decide this field was a good fit for you?
  4. What advice would you present to those considering entering the HIM profession?

I was drawn to this profession out of a single conversation with several professors in the health informatics department. Said conversation took place at a dinner honoring those whom had written a book, a chapter, or a paper for publication. Out of that conversation, I found that the skills I had developed during a previous master of science in physics degree could be put to future use in this health informatics field. Since I was not doing much at the time, I decided to take a risk and try a different field than the one I had experienced previously. It has already paid off in new experiences and growth.
This has always been a tricky question for me. Ideally, my future position will allow me to combine my strong analysis skills with blogging and presentation. Having done a stint in a lab sequestered from the public I am not keen on being kept isolated in some back room. Such position will also allow me to earn a living wage. I am going to take the RHIA examination, so I will need to refresh such knowledge in the future. So long as AHIMA keeps offering these little refresher courses I will also keep taking them.

I found out that this field is never about just one thing. That is, while there is a good deal of analysis and data entry going on, there are also options for business, computer science, programming, networking, dealing with others, helping set up the very structures needed for people to communicate, all kinds of stuff. If I am not interested in one subfield, I have the ability to pivot to another as needed. I need never be permanently bored.

This field feels very new, though it has been around for decades in one form or another. Keep listening to perspectives different from your own, as there are so many different ways to go about HIM that running into different opinions is inevitable. Get some mentoring if you are coming to this field from outside, (NCHIMA just opened up a mentorship program,) as the field is vast enough that you may need aid navigating it. Ask for help if you need it for the same reason, as there is a great deal of ground to cover and it is better if you ask the questions during the training rather than after. Find out if any credits earned (CU-style) can also serve a second purpose for your training, as there is no sense wasting a good grade. If you approach this field willing to learn and critically appraising the material, (without being a jerk about it,) you will do much better.

Sallie Bissette MHA, MBA, RHIA
Currently working on a Doctorate in Interdisciplinary Leadership through Creighton University
Director, Integrity/Corporate Integrity and Compliance at WakeMed
Raleigh, NC

Like most undergraduates, I changed my major multiple times. I was working in a doctor’s office during the week and the emergency department on the weekends. I knew I wanted to do healthcare. Back in those days you had a paper catalog. I looked through degree programs offered at that time relating to healthcare and similar to the work I was doing in the doctor’s office and the emergency department. HIM jumped out to me and allowed me to use the skills I was obtaining in my work experience.

I am currently working on a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Leadership through Creighton University.  Eventually I would like to use this degree to teach. In the meantime, I apply the skills I am learning in my position.  I will be testing in February to become Certified in Healthcare Compliance with the Health Care Compliance Association.

I was taught growing up to have a job that you enjoyed coming to and it wouldn’t feel like “work”. We do a lot of investigational work and uncovering answers and working with departments to fix problems.  Problem solving and working through dynamic situations is very exciting to me. My job is also different from day to day. This keeps things interesting for me.

Know a little bit about a bunch of things instead of a lot about one thing. Having a good understanding of how things work from start to finish will help you better understand your job/task. Get a good understanding of everything HIM has to offer. Attend NCHIMA chapter meetings, the state meeting, and the national convention if at all possible. You can network here and learn about all the things HIM has to offer and the different things you can do with an HIM degree.

Call for Board Nominations

NCHIMA is accepting nominations for the following positions. The election will be held on-line March 1-10, 2017, 30-60 days prior to the NCHIMA Annual Meeting in April 2017. Job descriptions and responsibilities for each position are located on the NCHIMA website or by clicking here.

Please consider nominating a member or members who have served this organization for one of the following NCHIMA Governance Team positions. The call for nominations is open now through February 10, 2017.
  • President Elect – 3 year term (President, Past President/Director, also serves as a Delegate the first two years of the term)
  • Secretary – 1 year term
  • Treasurer – 2 year term
  • Regional Liaison – 2 year term
Click here to complete the call for nomination form and review job descriptions.

This is a great opportunity to grow professionally, support your organization, and network with your peers, so please nominate yourself or one of your qualified colleagues as we continue to build the future of NCHIMA.

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