May 14, 2020

HIMs sharing their love for the job in times of COVID-19

This week is Health Information Management Awareness Week, to honour and celebrate health information management (HIM) professionals and to raise awareness of the profession and the contribution that the health information workforce makes towards healthcare.

COVID-19 has highlighted the important role Health Information Services play in the health service’s response to the management and preparation for the pandemic.

“When the planning for this pandemic started, the Health Information Services (HIS) team’s first task was to look at their business continuity planning from the medical records perspective and ensure that they are able to continue this essential service,” explained Terri Fiorenza, Director Health Information Services.

Our Health Information Services include a number of different areas: general medical records, IPM, corporate records management, communication (reception and switch board) across all campuses, data sets reporting, coding, ward clerk workforce, ED clerical workforce, CPF and forms.

The HIS team has seen a number of changes in the last couple of weeks, from split teams on various locations at all campuses and part of the team working home, to changes in their usual reporting and coding.

“From the coding perspective, there have been new codes for COVID-19 patients. From the ward clerk perspective, we have been involved with assisting with the setup of the Fever Clinic and we provide clerical resources to that area as well. The clerks had to learn how to do the donning and doffing of PPE and that was quite new for them,” she said.

With the development of telehealth and patients moving to a new model of care, the HIS team have also looked at developing electronic and paper based forms which suit and match the telehealth environment.

Terri sees the biggest changes for the HIS team being the splitting into two teams and adapting to the new communication channels with staff members who work from home through MS Teams.

“Even with the challenges, the feedback has been good and the team keeps coming up with ideas, being engaged in the whole process from the start,” she said.

Terri has been at Northern Health for 23 years, and in her current role for 12 years and sees these times as an unprecedented event.

“This is definitely a once in a career situation we are experiencing. We have to think outside of the box and prepare for multiple scenarios. We have had to rely on technology more, work differently and had to explore working from home options for staff that don’t necessarily need to be on site,” she explained.

To mark HIM Awareness Week, our HIMs have shared why they chose this profession and what they enjoy most in their role. Please see the video below to find out:


Featured image (left to right): Shani Radford, David Mangano, Donna Trimble, Sonia Mastrilli, Raelene Hunter, Sandra Louws, Terri Fiorenza