Two Things I Learned at AHIMA’s 2023 Convention

Two Things I Learned at AHIMA’s 2023 Convention

Just in case you hadn’t heard or read it somewhere else, it was announced at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) House of Delegates that AHIMA’s continuing education unit (CEU) requirements are changing, effective Jan. 1, 2024.  The expectation is that 40 percent of your required CEUs will be purchased directly from AHIMA. According to the FAQs that were published with little fanfare or personalized notification to the members until just recently:

• Any AHIMA-certified professional whose recertification cycle begins on Jan. 1, 2024 or thereafter will have a full two years to complete, report, and comply with the new requirements.

• If a certified professional’s recertification cycle start date occurs BEFORE Jan. 1, 2024, then they will continue to meet/follow the current recertification requirements. Only when they recertify successfully and their next two-year cycle goes into effect, after Jan. 1, 2024, will these new requirements apply.

What are the new requirements?

At least 40 percent of the minimum number of CEUs you are required to maintain for your certification(s) and/or credential must come directly from AHIMA. Simply translated, you must buy those CEUs from AHIMA. AHIMA-approved CEUs offered by your state or other providers do not qualify for the 40-percent component. However, you can use those other sources for the remaining 60 percent.

Before this rule, you only had to pay AHIMA for your membership dues and any fees associated with renewing a certification, such as trainer certification. 

Your dues entitle you to some free CEUs from AHIMA on general topics. You can secure additional free CEUs if you bump up (and pay more for) your membership to the Premier level.

At least 80 percent of your CEUs are also supposed to come from a health informatics and information management (HIIM) domain. I attended the National Convention, so three of my CEUs did not qualify as being from a HIIM domain! If AHIMA is promoting the quality and efficacy of the learning experience, why would AHIMA even offer these sessions?

The dialogue and repercussions

One individual shared that AHIMA representatives stated that the quality of the educational programs being provided by states or other organizations was not on par with that offered by AHIMA. Oh really?  For the state meetings I’ve attended, I have found that they often offer cost-effective and high-quality educational programming for their members. Some of the state organizations have annual conventions that not only have outstanding content but are as or more robust than the AHIMA national convention. But under the new rule, instead

of a member being able to secure all their required CEUs from their state, they will be required to expend some of their limited education funds to buy courses from AHIMA – either as courses, webinars, or attending events, such as the National Convention. 

A review of the webinars reflected a rate that appears to be approximately $44 per CEU for webinars. If I maneuvered the AHIMA website correctly, their selection is somewhat dated. Of the 59 webinars they are offering, only 17 are from 2023. The remainder date back to 2018. (See insert.) I looked at Idaho’s, Texas’s, California’s, and West Virginia’s meeting agendas and registration fees (at the latest date). The cost per CEU ranged from approximately $20-$50, plus travel expenses. However, there is value to networking with your regional peers and visiting with exhibitors that needs to be considered, which will be absent from a webinar.

The most significant repercussion to the new rule, in my opinion, is that AHIMA’s demand to buy from AHIMA will undermine its own component association offerings. Our membership’s representatives, the House of Delegates, had no vote on this decision.

A CEO Replacement

Of course, much may have changed since October, but we were told that the AHIMA Board of Directors is again considering CEO candidates who are not credentialed members of the Association. We were told that no qualified credentialed professionals applied.

Really? AHIMA has 63,000 members and there are 100,000 credentialed professionals in the U.S., and no qualified credentialed professionals applied?!  

The non-credentialed interim CEO shared that there was an active reach-out to credentialed professionals who were urged to apply. Really? I contacted several reputable credentialed individuals and a few past presidents, and they had not been contacted. I wasn’t contacted to recommend anyone, either. Are we headed for another single-candidate ballot again?

At this point it’s probably too late to tell you to apply, but maybe not. Here’s a link to the opportunity: Accessing publicly available information, the 2021 compensation for the last non-credentialed CEO, Wylecia Wiggs Harris, was reported as $647,000 on the 990. The Association’s 2021 performance appears below.

How many health information directors, even large system executive directors, who are on-call 24×7 and dealing with patient care issues, are being paid at this level? It may be time to consider that a role overseeing fewer than 150 staff members should be focused on the members – and that any role that doesn’t deal with critical patient care issues daily should be at a compensation level that is considerably less than $647,000.

I suspect we’ll be hearing the Board’s choice soon.

Don’t hesitate to tell the Board what you think. You elected them to represent you, and your dues pay for AHIMA staff and the Board’s expenses.

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Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS, AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer

Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS, is a past president of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and recipient of AHIMA’s distinguished member and legacy awards. She is chief operating officer of First Class Solutions, Inc., a healthcare consulting firm based in St. Louis, Mo. First Class Solutions, Inc. assists healthcare organizations with operational challenges in HIM, physician office documentation and coding, and other revenue cycle functions.

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