The 2018 Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) and the National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) annual conference was held in the beautiful city of Hobart in the state of Tasmania 31 October to 2 November 2018. This annual conference is the largest health information management event in the Western Pacific region and showcases the profession’s key highlights and experiences in Health Information Management and Health Classifications in one setting.

Delegates from all over Australia and overseas enjoyed not only an excellent program of plenary sessions and health information and health classification stream workshops, they were also able to experience and taste the wonderful wines and food of this region of Australia.

The conference theme was “Engaging the Next Generation” and the conference committee did an excellent job in doing just that with a plenary session on day one that launched the Health Information Workforce Census Report. The Report outlines the findings of a research based inaugural census on the Health Information workforce in Australia. Dr Kerryn Butler-Henderson from the University of Tasmania and the University of Melbourne’s Dr Kathleen Gray led the project and presented the results.

The findings concluded that the Australian health information workforce is predominantly female, highly educated and getting older, but few are taking up extra credentials and half do not belong to any form of industry or professional organisation. Many are planning to leave the workforce within the next 14 years which has obvious ramifications for future workforce planning in a health sector that is becoming more digitally reliant.

Following this presentation, one of Australia’s rising stars, Herman Phung, set us right about the millennial HIM. His amusing session described his eventual arrival at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, with many career detours in between which best described the next generation. Herman then joined a panel discussion on “Engaging the Next Generation”.  What a future we have in Australia, and a guarantee that the HIM profession will continue to evolve and meet the needs of the digital health industry.

The Digital Health theme flowed throughout the conference with an overview of the My Health Record. This is a national scheme for all Australians, with our health information securely kept and controlled by us in our My Health Record.

The clinical updates and the NCCH clinical coding update workshops in the Health Classification streams continue to be popular with clinical coders.   The Clinical Documentation Improvement keynote given by Dr David Tralaggan and the ICD 11 transition to implementation keynote presented by Vera Dimitropoulos touched on relevant topics in our HIM and health classification future. The plenary ‘Making us Stronger’ workshop was facilitated by Vera Dimitropoulos, Kerryn Butler-Henderson, Nina Lean and Jennie Shepheard with approximately 200 participants discussing the current issues around ensuring integrity in our clinically coded data.

James Downie, CEO of the Australian Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), and his team spoke about the next generation of funding models and informed us of the work they are undertaking in the area of Activity Based Funding classifications.

The conference was innovative, explored the future, gave hope that the future is bright as long as we are willing to engage with the next generation and make sure this engagement is relevant to workforce needs and the needs of the health of all Australians.

We hope to see many of our International colleagues in SYDNEY in 2019 as we celebrate 70 years of Health Information Management in Australia!

Jenny Gilder

Past President of HIMAA

This Is the picture with the front row seated – HIMAA Board, from left to right top row: Grant Duffil, Megan Hayes, Mark Upton, Vera Dimitropoulos, Sharon Campbell, Vicki Bennett. From left to right bottom row: Cheens Lee, Catherine Garvey, Cassandra Rupnik


Conference Committee, from Left to Right: Richard Lawrance, Kerryn Butler-Henderson, Dana Higgins, Vera Dimitropoulos, Lyn Williams, Milla Krivozhnya, Trixie Kemp, Linda Westbrook, Nina Lean, Cheens Lee (Absent Imelda Noti)