We’re proud to be part of the HIM community! We’re celebrating the critical role HIM professionals play, during #HIPWeek19 – It’s All in the Data – Quality Care through Storytelling. In celebration, we have interviewed some members of our HIM community to get their perspectives on the field and to share their successes. In this first interview, we talked to one of the graduates of our Health Information Management Program, Carrie Mills.
Tell us about yourself and your current job role.
I am a mother of two kids, who are actively involved in hockey which has me traveling a lot. When I am not at the rink, I enjoy running as well as playing for a recreational volleyball league. I am currently employed as the Manager of Patient Registration, Health Information and Privacy for the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) – an alliance of four hospital sites in Huron and Perth counties here in Ontario. I thoroughly enjoy working with the full healthcare team across many departments and promoting the importance of quality health information within our system.
How did you initially become interested in the HIM profession? What was your journey or story of becoming an HIM professional?
I initially became interested in the HIM profession as I have always had a passion for lifelong learning. My healthcare career journey began in laboratory science when I studied to become a Medical Laboratory Technician. From there I was an active participant on continuous improvement projects and an interim quality assurance role where I was heavily involved in the laboratory accreditation process. This involvement really sparked my interest in efficient delivery of care as well as quality in healthcare, especially as it relates to the importance of data and utilizing it to drive decisions in the system. I transitioned into a management role in Patient Registration; the mentorship from my leader contributed to my focus and interest in the promotion of high quality data and reporting. Over my years in leadership, I have taken many different courses around subjects pertaining to healthcare standards and informatics, so I researched what it would take to complete my degree in Health Information Management. I was really impressed with CHA Learning’s opportunity to complete the Health Information program and prepare for my national certification. The option of completing the schooling online gave me the flexibility I required to balance working full-time and being a mom, while working towards my educational goals.
You’ve been successful as a young HIM professional in a management role. What success factors do you feel helped you to get to where you are now in your career?
Supportive relationships and great teams! These being professional, my work family, HPHA leadership team, my wonderful mentors, learning opportunities and contacts through CHA Learning as well as Ryerson where I am currently completing my degree in Health Administration (Health Information Management). I have felt such support in every endeavour I have chosen to pursue. My parents have always been a source of encouragement; as well, the unwavering patience of my children has helped me achieve my academic and career goals.
I’ve had the privilege of working with great teams of people that have contributed to my success. Having collaborative working relationships, I am grateful to not only work with the HPHA leadership team, but also to lead and manage the team of individuals that I do. They are the many faces of HIM, most of whom are the invisible entities behind the reporting of required healthcare data and the creation of quality health records. These HIM Professionals are an important cornerstone in the quality input of patient data from the original appointment bookings, to the positive patient identification and registration, to the chart reconciliation process, to transcribing of reports, and finally the coding, abstracting and submission of patient data.
What advice do you have for aspiring HIM professionals and those trying to balance studies with work and home priorities? What were your success factors as a mature student in CHA Learning’s HIM program?
Make a plan and stay organized! Looking at the overall program may seem daunting. By making a plan and tackling one thing at a time (whether that be course readings, assignments, exams), making reasonable and achievable goals really contributed to my success as a mature student. Online courses gave the flexibility I required, yet I found that I needed to schedule in time to work on schoolwork. Whether that be later in the evening after the kids had gone to bed, or finding a quiet spot at an arena to work away while kids were on the ice – staying dedicated to my educational objectives and putting in the time towards my studies was important. I also learned to accept help from others if they offered. As the saying goes “it takes a village”! If someone offered to take one of the kids to hockey practice, I learned to accept the invitation. I am especially fortunate to have a great, supportive network of friends to balance not only work but life as well.
Thinking ‘big’, what do you envision as the role of HIM Professional in the transformation and improvement of the healthcare system in the future?
I think with the advances in innovation and technology, the role of the HIM professional is increasingly changing and evolving into new roles that include: implementing EHR systems, leading teams, promoting data quality, contributing to improvements in patient care, improving clinical documentation and ensuring HIM standards are met in the implementation of new Information Technologies.
Overall, I think our profession makes an important contribution to the improvement of our healthcare system and helps to prepare it for the future by harnessing and analyzing the data available.
As a manager do you have any key leadership lessons or advice for others in management/leadership roles or people who aspire to be?
Never stop learning! Take advantage of any opportunity you have to take continuous education courses; learn from your daily interactions and experiences; learn from mentors, peers, employees, and patients. There is always room for improvement so learn where you can! Communication takes many forms and different people value different types of communication. My suggestion is to try to communicate as much as you can and with engagement wherever possible. Finally, lead with determination and passion.
What inspires you in your day to day work?
Leading great people to accomplish their goals, all the while keeping a focus on why I chose healthcare to begin with – the patient!
Carrie graduated from CHA Learning’s Health Information Management program in 2017 and is currently working as Manager of Patient Registration, Health Information and Privacy for the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA). She started her career in healthcare as a Laboratory Technician and her interest and curiosity led her to her current role. She is currently completing her degree in Health Administration at Ryerson.