Australia during a time of COVID-19

“Without doubt the best quality we observe across the entire Australian community is a natural willingness to pitch in and have a go, to help others. We see it of course whenever there is an emergency or a worthy cause. We see it in every community volunteer organisation from the lifesavers to the bushfire brigades through to the thousands of youth and mature age sporting clubs and those great international service organisations like Rotary and many others. We see it in our professional bodies such as the police, fire and ambulance services and of course in the defence force. It is a generosity of spirit and a selflessness that is perhaps our most precious heritage to hand on to younger and newer Australians – a nation of people who care for and look out for each other.”

-Peter Cosgrove, the Australian Governor General

The words of Peter Cosgrove aptly summarise the spirit of Australians during this difficult time of COVID-19, and the Health Information Management profession epitomises this.

HIMs are involved in the planning and set up of COVID-19 clinics across the nation, implementing systems to support the capture of COVID-19 data, and analysing or reporting the data to support our nation’s COVID-19 strategy. Whilst these are challenging, and often sad, times for everyone, the response from health organisations have highlighted the importance of HIM.

The 2020 national conference for the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) and the scheduled one day forum with the Australian College of Health Service Managers have both been deferred until 2021. HIMAA is now organising a series of webinars to continue the professional development opportunities, with the first one addressing Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) held at the end of April. In addition to the valuable information gained through the webinars, members are able to obtain Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for their attendance.

The HIMAA Special Interest Groups (SIGs) such as the National and NSW Private Hospital, eHealth and Scanning, International HIM, Rural and Remote, Victorian Mental Health Advisory, and newly formed CDI SIG, continue to ensure efficient and continuous shared knowledge and professional networking between health information professionals. In addition to these groups, the tireless work of our State Branches continues to strengthen our profession. Other vital work continuing in Australia include the development of a National Health Information Strategy, with HIMAA and HIMs providing input at several workshops around the country (pre-COVID-19).

Most exciting is the upcoming HIM Awareness Week (11-17 May 2020), where members from across Australia promote the profession in their organisations and across industry. It is also a great opportunity for students to get involved through poster presentations. We look forward to sharing some of the wonderful displays from HIM departments and students in the next edition of Global News.

Authors: Kerryn Butler-Henderson (Australian Director) and Sally McIntosh (Australian Deputy Director)