Australia was again party to an informative, thought-provoking, and well-organised conference by the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) and National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH). The 36th HIMAA and NCCH annual conference was held at the newly-opened Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta, from 23rd to 25th October, where all delegates celebrated ‘70 years of Strength in Diversity’. Those who were brave enough attended the pre-conference ghost tour at the old Parramatta Gaol, learning about criminals and ghosts of time past; which was preceded by a tour of Westmead Hospital and Precinct, both being enjoyed by all attendees.

Over the three days, delegates broadened their knowledge on health analytics, medico-legal issues, education and training, information governance, patient quality and safety, health services management, health classifications and coding, digital health/health informatics, and health information management on the international stage. From breaking timber boards (through ‘10 Seconds of Courage’) and applying clinical codes to scenarios from Game of Thrones, to dancing the night away at the ‘Better Than Gold, We’re Platinum’ conference dinner, it was a memorable three days!

The first day of the conference kicked-off with Charlie Farah who had the aspirational message that HIMs are the real Chief Data Officers in healthcare. Throughout the day we saw discussion of hot topics such as data literacy, ICD-11, factors influencing HIMAA membership, the 2018 Australian Health Information Workforce Census, Australian Emergency Care Classification version 10, clinical coding auditing in Qatar, comparison of Stroke Registry and administrative data, computer-assisted clinical coding, and clinical documentation improvement programs and competencies. Delegates also enjoyed the ‘10 Seconds of Courage’ motivational session by Nadine Champion – who knew we had promising martial artists amongst us?

Pavilion Health, National Clinical Coding, eHealth and Scanning, and 3M special interest and user groups were held in the afternoon, showcasing and discussing new innovations, followed by a chance to network over the ‘Welcome Reception’ drinks sponsored by 3M.

The inaugural HIMAA Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 24th October, and saw the following members newly elected or re-elected to the HIMAA Board: Mark Upton, Vicki Bennett, Catherine Garvey, Suzette Dela Cruz Regalo and Travis Ingram.  Members who were not up for re-election that remain on the Board are Cheens Lee (President), Megan Hayes, Kate Horkings and Cassandra Rupnik. Life Membership was awarded to Sallyanne Wissman, a past president of HIMAA, for her contribution to the profession and association.

Topics presented and discussed on the second day of the conference surrounded data and quality and safety, including Australia’s life-long person-centric health data sets, data breach processes and maintaining data quality, writing for the HIM-Interchange, identifying adverse events through CHADx, RSI for length of stay, and development of interactive applications for medication reminders.

Clinical updates sessions were also held, including dental procedures, stereo-EEG and epilepsy, premature babies, managing patients in ICU, and the NCCH Coding Workshop (which always brings passionate, however constructive, discussions).

In amongst dance moves on the dancefloor, awards for outstanding commitment to and excellence in the HIM profession were presented at the conference dinner, including to Melissa Turnell, Sally McIntosh, Sue Walker, Alida Minchella, Kirstie Mountain, Dwayne Richards, Lee Hanlon-Morris, and Dusty Ellen.

The third and final day of the conference saw barriers being broken down to support a proactive health information workforce, including utilising digital health to empower professionals to deliver better care, understanding the evolving role of the clinical coder and building our teams, and discovering the diverse roles of health information professionals. Supporting trainee clinical coders and our workforce in general, implementing ‘coding from home’, and improving data quality, were key messages.

The HIMAA and NCCH 2019 conference was the last delivered as a joint venture by NCCH and HIMAA and we thank NCCH for all their hard work and support over the years. The content and organisation of this conference was exemplary and we all look forward to 2020.



Sally McIntosh

Deputy National Director IFHIMA (Australia)










Bankwest Staudium with the HIMAA 70th Logo.









Sallyanne Wissman receiving her Life Membership from Cheens Lee.









Phyllis Watson being acknowledged at the conference dinner with Cameron Barnes.