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The Importance of the Canadian Health Information Management Association

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: February 23, 2022

The Importance of the Canadian Health Information Management Association

Often, Canadians see healthcare as a standalone entity in terms of professions. It’s healthcare, period. However, as the world, technology and storage of personal information have grown and changed, healthcare in Canada has become a sector where numerous fields converge, often within a single job.

In the case of health information management, we’ve seen healthcare, technology and security come together in one career. This is a role focused on ensuring an individual’s healthcare information is accurate, safe and accessible as needed.

Organizations like the Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA) exist to support and promote the health information management field. Its domains of practice are: privacy, data quality, electronic health information management and health information management standards. As a joint organization with the Canadian College of Health Information Management (CCHIM), CHIMA provides membership opportunities to those who have earned a certification through the college.

Certification opportunities

CCHIM has four certifications available to those who complete a program through an accredited education institution like the Diploma in Health Information Management program from Ashton College. Successful completion of Ashton’s program may allow a graduate to earn a Certified Health Information Management (CHIM) certification through CCHIM and also to become a member of CHIMA.

CHIM has a national certification exam through CCHIM which is hosted by CHIMA in a proctored online environment or can be written in person at a proctored testing centre like Ashton Testing Services. The exam is 154 multiple-choice questions in the seven areas of: biomedical sciences, health information science, health information analysis, information systems and technology, access and security, the health care system in Canada and ethics and practice. It is three-and-a-half hours long and an overall grade of 60% or higher is required to pass. Each individual area requires 50% or higher. Candidates can retake the exam up to three times.

Why earn certification or apply for membership?

Both the certification and membership programs are voluntary. There is no requirement to do either. However, today’s job market is more competitive than ever before, and the healthcare field is very attractive to job seekers – especially a role that includes a component of information technology! Certification and/or membership may be a requirement for some employers. For employers who don’t note these as a job requirement, they may be the elements that set you apart from other job seekers.

Plus, if you’ve gone to the effort to earn your Diploma in Health Information Management why not let people know at a glance by showing it in print? With certification, you can add the designation after your name (Your Name, CHIM) as you would with any other professional designation that matters to you.

And, as a member of the association, you join more than 5,000 other health information professionals represented by CHIMA across Canada. Members can choose from Professional, Retired, Student or Affiliate as their membership type to reflect their active role in the industry. These members have access to the CHIMA members-only website, job postings, exclusive partner offers, networking opportunities, access to research and much more.

What does a health information professional do?

There are so many aspects to healthcare in Canada and every single patient is an individual with unique, personal needs spanning multiple healthcare outlets. Their health data is collected in each different place and through a number of channels. Consider the number of times you’re asked for your BC Services Card to show your personal health identification. Each time, your information is captured and recorded.

This includes lab visits, online doctors' appointments, specialist referrals, eye doctors and more.

Imagine if all those people entering your data were doing it in some haphazard, self-defined way. What a mess! Not only would the data not align from one source to another, chances are it wouldn’t be very secure if there weren’t standards to ensure its protection.

This is the foundation of what a health information professional does. As CHIMA explains it, “Health information professionals transform data into valuable information.” They also ensure that Canadians’ health information is safe, accurate and complete.

The job titles for those who work in some form of health information management are incredibly diverse. While some are what might be expected like: Health Information Practitioner, Health Records Technician or Health Information Administrator; others include the role within other careers, such as those in health law, privacy, risk management; or in jobs like: cancer registry coordinator, research assistant, registry unit analyst and training assistant.

The training a health information professional needs

Because of the diversity involved in the health information management field, educational programs extend far beyond simple data entry and an understanding of the Canadian healthcare system. A diploma in the field is a true investment given the approximately 2,000 hours of class time required.

It’s a significant outlay of time and energy, but one that is definitely worth it to create a career in a thriving area of healthcare.

Certainly, all education benefits the student, but in this case, learning from a health information management program that is accredited by CCHIM ensures the highest standards of learning in the field.  At some points in time, a student’s interest in biology will be engaged with courses that cover anatomy and physiology; there will be opportunities for the technical side of the brain to learn with courses in decision support and data analytics, and interests in security might be sparked with courses in tools for privacy management.

The best programs will also include a practicum component. This is the ideal way for a student to have hands-on practice of their learning. It will also provide experience that will be a valuable asset in the job market.

The right people for a career in information management

It can be hard to make a decision about a new career. And for those already working in the healthcare field or in technology or security, it can be a little intimidating to think about taking on new education. The benefit is that earning a diploma in the field will open up numerous doors and expand your career into areas you may not have considered.

Perhaps you’re not sure if health information management is right for you. There are a number of ways to get a better feel for the careers your education could lead to. First, contact CHIMA to discuss the field and gain a sense of job duties and responsibilities. Add to this a review of jobs on a platform like Indeed.com to understand the types of positions currently available and what is required. Finally, connect with us at Ashton College to discuss the program and how it can help you achieve your career goals.

 

Disclaimer

The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog

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