On June 24, 2021, the Canadian College of Health Information Management and CHIMA held a joint annual general meeting. Attendees were able to ask questions through the registration form and during the town hall portion of the event.
The questions and their answers are presented below. Similar questions have been grouped together and we encourage you to read all of our responses for a thorough understanding of our initiatives and offerings.
The health information profession has been reimagined due to the rapid growth in appetite for health data and the critical decisions this data can help inform. Due to this, a few trends are being revealed.
First, the CHIM designation’s credibility is expanding beyond an acute care setting into that of long-term care, primary care, public health, and pharma. More broadly, it’s being recognized outside of health care in other sectors such as justice, technology, and insurance. This is bringing decision-makers to us, seeking the expertise of the health information professional. Stemming from that rise in credibility comes increased job opportunities and career expansion for our professional members who desire to take on these new opportunities. Visit our job board, and by the way, we’ve made it free for employers to post a job.
Second, there has been significant interest from universities and colleges, and many are now working with our College to advance and explore accredited certificate, diploma, and degree-level programs. This expands the career-progression pathways available to future members and enables our professional members to qualify and compete for high-level positions within the health care sector and beyond. View the College’s program directory.
Finally, with these additional education opportunities now available, we see members going back to school, obtaining degrees (e.g., master’s degrees) and taking advantage of the abundant professional development offerings shared through CHIMA. We’re proud to say that certified health information professionals now have a variety of educational options available to them to tailor their education and career pathways to suit their own unique career goals, interests, and needs.
As mentioned earlier, we encourage you to participate in developing the 2023–2026 strategic plan. Through this journey, we will discover, articulate, and plan for the future of the health information profession—drawing a road map that supports our professionals, engages our partners, and strengthens Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Please visit beyondthedata.ca to learn more about how to share your voice.
There have been several discussions at the level of the CHIMA Board on this topic, and expert opinions have been sought. Currently, we are a non-statutory, self-regulated profession and with that comes a range of different structures that are open to us—because it’s not simply a choice of whether to regulate or not regulate. The choices are better represented along a continuum, with many different alternatives across that expanse.
Irrespective of regulating the profession as an outcome, a key first step is increasing the legitimacy and influence of our profession across Canada. This is why our strategic direction and our focus on partnerships and external relations are critical.
This approach also yields an immediate value for our members: It bolsters the profile of the health information profession as a whole; expands the scope of job opportunities; ensures health information representatives are invited more often, and more broadly, into key discussions; and ultimately builds the profession’s validity, relevance, and importance, thereby increasing our influence over time.
We are continuing to broaden our partnerships as we communicate the value and advocate for the role of certified health information professionals. We’ve been initiating conversations and already health information professionals are being invited to the table with decision-makers—such as the Public Health Agency of Canada.
For some employers, the desire for certification standards in health literacy has increased dramatically. For others, awareness is growing around the changing roles within the profession. We see establishing partnerships as a key priority and one of our strategic directions—the ultimate goal is to expand our offerings for our professional members. Last year alone we added key partners such as SNOMED International, CIHI, Canada Health Infoway, and many others. We take this as proof that health information professionals are wanted and needed as part of the conversations occurring around health data and information. Participating in these conversations allows us the insight to keep our members set up for success as we move into the future.
We have dedicated members of our CHIMA team working exclusively on partnerships and external relations because we recognize the critical importance of this kind of relationship building.
We believe the health information profession will continue to advance as different sectors accelerate their digital health infrastructure.
Especially due to the pandemic, we see increased demand across sectors, industries, and organizations for the competencies and skills found within our profession. Our certified professional members are being recruited into traditional practice areas such as classification and coding, records management, privacy, the release of information, and new areas such as research and analysis, data quality, informatics, and more.
Outside of acute care, there are roles in primary care, public health, and long-term care. Karen Brule of Alberta Health Services was featured on our blog to discuss the growing importance of information governance as a practice area. Read the full article here.
In addition, as many of our members know, many opportunities now sit outside of the health system. For example, we’ve featured a story on our blog about Tahmina Minhas, who works at a tech company called MedChart. We’ve featured our colleagues working in animal welfare and even the justice sector. With these articles, we aim to provide a host of different perspectives—and by extension, potential job opportunities that health information professionals might not have previously considered.
To connect our members to these opportunities, CHIMA has been building partnerships and participating in advisory groups to educate people about the profession. And, in clear view for our members, we have opened up our job board to provide free job listings, ensuring employers have easy access to find talent. If you are a CHIMA professional member and have not checked the job board, please look at the various roles and opportunities listed.
These efforts from the College and CHIMA are being made to connect our profession with career opportunities. And through the new website, we’ve increased accessibility for members to explore and learn about the future of the health information profession.
The sudden transition to a virtual world has accelerated the use of digital technologies to provide virtual care. However, it has also highlighted a trouble spot as we shift.
Our data and systems continue to be siloed within our health systems across Canada, whether in hospitals, acute care, public health, and even in for-profit companies. This separation is forcing us to examine data and information governance within health systems and even explore Canadians’ overall literacy in health information.
Health information professionals are key actors across all sectors and can help eliminate these silos within our health care systems by more effectively placing the person whose health information is being handled, at the centre.
The new health information fundamentals curricular standards (which launched last fall) and the modernization of HIM diploma and degree-program standards help to advance the profession to address these opportunities.
For existing professionals, look to our professional development offerings in the area of data analytics and computer-assisted coding. As well, on information governance, we now have a whole national community we support. Eric Sutherland, the Executive Director for the Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy with the Public Health Agency of Canada, facilitates the CHIMA Information Governance Community. We predict this will become a critical area of the profession moving forward.
The role expansion we see in the profession is precipitating the need for further pathways for education for our members. As you heard at our AGM, we’ve advanced the Health Information Fundamentals Curricular Standards. As we work on the diploma and degree standards this year, we are modernizing the content for the profession, so it keeps pace with the advancements in health systems. Further, professionals with degrees in recognized disciplines will be able to bring their expertise in law or business, as two examples, to their studies in a health information fundamentals certificate program.
CHIMA is very active in curating professional development offerings for both members and the general public. Visit the CHIMA Learning Centre. We had some fantastic events this year that attracted many attendees and were joint efforts with partners such as ESRI Canada and Amazon AWS. In January, the cardiology coding chart review we hosted attracted more than 2,300 registrants; and HIP Week, which is now fully online, features a broad array of content offerings and is attracting more attendees every year.
We recognize that some members of our profession seek more formal academic offerings. That is why the Canadian College of Health Information Management is pleased to announce the successful accreditation of Johnson Shoyama’s Master of Health Administration-Health Informatics and Information Management program—a first in Canada. Please click here for admissions information, including a mid-career option.
To stay informed about all of these opportunities and more, be sure to subscribe to the CHIMA Connection newsletter, which is delivered to inboxes at the end of each month. Tune into CHIMA’s social media channels as well: Twitter and Facebook.
Active certification and the use of a professional designation (e.g., CHIM) is licensed to certified members by the Canadian College of Health Information Management on an annual basis. This license is reliant upon members’ active participation in these three areas:
- Annual membership renewal with the Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA).
- Upholding of the professional code of ethics.
- Completion of the required continuing professional education (CPE) credits as per the timeframe set forth in the CPE policy.
Retired membership is offered to those who are no longer handling health information in any capacity and no longer wish to be certified through the Canadian College of Health Information Management. If this applies to you, please contact us to inquire. You can view the features of a retired membership here.
This is a complex question because certified health information management (CHIM) professionals can be found working across many sectors beyond health care—insurance, education, business and more. With respect to Canadians’ health journeys, CHIM professionals serve in many roles throughout the data and information lifecycle.
Since many of our CHIMA professional members are coders, we suggest looking to organizations such as CIHI to learn about the ICD-11 rollout. Also recommended if you’re a coder: thinking outside the box about how to solve problems within the charts you’re reviewing and flagging these for leadership. Having data analysis skills may also be an asset—building on your knowledge in information governance, data quality, analytics, technology, clinical knowledge, and privacy.
Careers naturally evolve when operational processes or efficiencies are implemented—it makes room for new initiatives to gain forward momentum. As electronic health systems are implemented, we encourage consideration of the core competencies that make up the backbone of health information programs and consideration of how those skills are transferrable. If you’ve been coding for many years, perhaps there is room to grow into a team lead or mentorship role. Stay tuned: this year we plan to launch two live event series focusing on leadership and career development.
Through consultations, we’ve taken time to consider the impact that ICD-11 will have on coding and classification in Canada. Given the complexity and scope of ICD-11, we expect roles in coding to become more computer-assisted, creating a gap with regards to analysis and information governance.
We expect that coding roles will evolve into positions that emphasize analysis, information curation, and interpretation of the data. We expect a higher degree of critical thinking will be required in these roles to inform insights and decision-making.
To help prepare the profession for this change and keep pace with this evolution, we launched the Health Information Fundamentals Curricular Standards. And this year, we are modernizing the HIM diploma and degree program curricular standards—the standards that define accreditation for educational institutions across Canada.
In addition, CHIMA and the College are actively involved, ensuring organizations are fully integrated with our partners, such as CIHI, to support the upscaling of skills for those in the workforce with regards to ICD-11.
We understand how challenging these times have been. They’ve also presented opportunities to learn and grow because of the accelerated change in our health systems. For that reason, we see continuing education as more important than ever; therefore, our requirements will not be changing at this time.
To help members, we did take action on a couple of fronts that we want to draw your attention to. We rapidly expanded our online offerings through our new website so you have a full learning centre of opportunities that you can browse and engage with from the comfort of your home. Through our partners, both established and new, CHIMA has delivered numerous education options and is in the process of curating more.
Last year alone we provided access to more than 100 education sessions, professional practice briefs, and events that were curated and offered on behalf of CHIMA. Members receive preferred pricing on many of these offerings—some even for free, such as the briefs and the associated quizzes.
Finally, if your organization is signed up for a CHIMA Annual Team Learning Subscription, you will be able to gain access to content and many virtual events within our learning management system at no additional cost.
Yes. As it has for everyone, the pandemic has impacted in-person activities, which is why we rapidly expanded our online offerings. Here are a few upcoming opportunities:
We have been speaking with our chapters about engagement events for members—ones hosted on our online systems and ones during HIP Week this fall.
We have two series planned for later this year: one on leadership and one on career development. These will be live, interactive events. You can check out our current offerings here. Stay tuned for new opportunities launching soon.
Clinical Documentation Improvement Week took place from July 19-23 this year. There are forthcoming new educational offerings as well, similar in spirit to what was featured during Privacy Awareness Week, which took place in May.
Education sessions that highlight the work of cancer agencies, registries, and treatment centres in Canada are currently available. Access “CancerCare Manitoba and health information: Insights from a clinical trials unit manager” by clicking here.
We want to emphasize the benefits of being subscribed to our email communications, which includes receiving our monthly CHIMA Connection newsletters. They contain information about new and exciting opportunities available for members.
Lastly, if your organization is signed up for a CHIMA Annual Team Learning Subscription, you will be able to gain access to many virtual events and content available within our learning management system at no additional cost.
It’s an exciting time to be certified in health information. As our organization continues to expand the health information ecosystem, the CHIM designation is becoming a recognized differentiator for those in the workforce, across many sectors.
We recommend keeping your job search broadly focused. A health information professional no longer has to be limited to just those roles, whether in or outside of health care, that require the CHIM designation. When aiming for those roles that do not require it, we recommend highlighting your CHIM credentials during job interviews, being sure to mention the competencies you possess with respect to information governance, data quality, analytics, technology, clinical knowledge, and privacy. Search for jobs that you are passionate about. Follow your interests, and stay open-minded to opportunities that will allow you to bring your knowledge, competencies, and skills to the table. Job listings are free to post for employers. Keep an eye on our job board for the wide variety of roles being advertised.
For current students or non-certified graduates, check out CHIMA’s career matrix to learn more about various job roles and titles and don’t miss the blog posts we feature from people working in different health-information-related roles in the field. The best way to stay informed of those stories is to subscribe to CHIMA email communications. Our aim is to provide you with a broad view of the health information workforce within the health care sector and beyond.
For members, we encourage you to volunteer with your regional chapter to make connections and build relationships. Networking opportunities abound, even in our primarily virtual world. Getting involved with a chapter means you’ll make contact with chapter leads, committees, and members who are dedicated and passionate about the profession. You can visit your region’s chapter page on our website and fill out the volunteer form, which goes directly to the chapter chair.
The number and variety of employment roles available to health information professionals are on the rise. There are more sectors than ever seeking certified professionals in health information.
In some circumstances, especially around COVID-19, we’ve become more flexible. In early 2020 we learned about the impact the pandemic was having on students and recent graduates seeking in-person practicum placements. We quickly began working with students virtually, inviting them to write professional practice briefs, therefore enabling them to connect and contribute to the thought leadership base of the professional practice.
With regards to academic standards set by the College, we believe in-person experience for students (co-op, part-time work, casual, practicum) is a key element to our accredited diploma and degree programs. We are redefining the format of the academic standards—ensuring they are a little less prescriptive—to leave room for focus on lived experience.
Finally, many health jurisdictions in Canada are reexamining “in training” type of work—including part-time or casual work structures designed for students in an effort to get the experience.
This area of the website is of benefit to certified, professional members. We understand career postings help students gain perspective on the breadth of opportunities that exist in the field of health information.
As a student or non-certified graduate, you can gain an understanding of current health information careers and job titles by exploring CHIMA’s career matrix; reading profiles of professionals in the field on our blog, and subscribing to CHIMA email communications. Our aim is to provide you with a broad view of health information roles within the health care sector and beyond.
We have professional development offerings being built for analytics, which will launch later this year. Please stay tuned to the CHIMA Connection newsletter for more information about this launch.
CIHI also offers related resources.
If you have ideas about what we can do to support analysts further, please contact us.
The health information fundamentals curricular standards are built in such a way that ethics, diversity, equity, and inclusion content is embedded within all practice areas.
We have been introduced to the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) through our engagement with the Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy expert advisory group, and we look forward to working further with FNIGC to understand how we can collaborate in future.
There are various program delivery formats at various price points available currently through our accredited programs at different institutions across Canada. As we accredit more programs in health information, we aim to broaden options for our prospective professionals.
Our accredited partners govern their own health information program costs. The Canadian College of Health Information Management does not regulate the cost of programs across the country. We have no intention to do so in the future.
In the process of updating CHIMA and the College’s resources, we’ve achieved our first step: designing and launching health information fundamentals curricular standards. We are now in the process of examining and building elements in support of these updated standards, including examinations and other assets.
We are advancing a textbook project as well, with dedicated team members working with advisors through the discovery and design stages.
To learn more about this new academic offering from the Johnson Shoyama School of Public Policy, visit this page.
The Canadian College of Health Information Management has a reciprocal agreement with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). This agreement allows holders of AHIMA’s Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) designations to apply to write the College’s CHIM national certification examination (NCE).
There are no plans to change the name of the organization or the CHIM™ professional designation.
When speaking about the health information profession as a whole, management is not added. A good example is our use of the phrase “health information programs,” which serves as a catch-all for a variety of educational programs: health information management (HIM), terminology standards, classification and coding, and clinical documentation improvement. Another example: references made to health information professionals who work in acute care, long-term care, primary care, mental health, veterinary services, and other settings.
When speaking specifically about Certified Health Information Management (CHIM) professionals, accredited HIM programs, or students and graduates from these HIM programs, the word management is included.