A conversation with Bill Rudman, PhD, RHIA
I first met Dr. Wiliam “Bill” Rudman, PhD, RHIA when he was deputy to then AHIMA Foundation executive director, Mary Madison. After Mary moved on from AHIMA in 2011, Bill took over the foundation and has since gone to establish it as a global health IT workforce development and training powerhouse.
Rudman is now both the Executive Director of the AHIMA Foundation and Vice President of Education Visioning for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). According to its website, the AHIMA Foundation is envisioning the future direction of the healthcare industry and is preparing for that future with investments in research, workforce development, education, and innovative strategies that will advance the HIM profession and ultimately better serve the healthcare community.
Before joining AHIMA in 2011, Rudman worked for 20 years in academia as a Professor in health information management. Rudman also served as the director of the HIT core for the Delta Regional Institute and oversaw implementation of an electronic record exchange in rural Mississippi. He served on the state Mississippi Task force for health information exchange and chaired the education committee and received his PhD in sociology in 1985 and a BS in Health Information Management, University of Mississippi Medical Center, in 1999. Rudman has published over 70 scholarly articles, made of 140 scholarly presentations, and received over $70 million in federal funded grants.
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Stevens: You have been with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) since 2011. During your tenure, the United States adopted ICD-10, a change which is due in large part to the role of AHIMA. For you, the AHIMA Foundation, and AHIMA, what have been some of your other, biggest challenges and accomplishments?
Rudman: Changes in technology, social constructs and values, and legislation and regulatory factors in the United States and internationally have redefined what health information professionals do, where they work, and how they work. It is imperative that we address the growing gap that has resulted between academic training and competencies and the skills needed to ensure workforce readiness.
Our work internationally to expand the health information professional globally is something that I am extremely proud of and these efforts go a long way toward developing a highly-skilled health information workforce globally. We have formed long-lasting relationships in the GCC region and other regions, convened a group of international leaders and experts in the health information professions, and developed global curricula for health information management, health informatics, and health information and communications technology that has been adopted by educational institutions in countries around the globe.
While promoting health information internationally, we have also received an award from the U.S. Department of Labor to advance registered apprenticeships in the field. We are excited about the opportunities that this program will offer in terms of up-skilling and additional training opportunities – including training on common employability skills – to create pathways and increase growth opportunities in health information and for those transitioning into the profession including underrepresented populations.
Stevens: In 2014, you won a U.S. Department of Commerce grant which supports the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) in an initiative to establish a global health information curricula through the work of the Global Health Workforce Council (GHCW) that provides a framework for healthcare and education systems worldwide. Can you tell us about the Council, its members and achievements?
Rudman: The award from the U.S. Department of Commerce – International Trade Association Market Development Cooperator Program has allowed us to build new and lasting relationships and foster the growth of the health information profession worldwide. Through the award, we have also established the GHWC. Comprised of experts from education, healthcare, governments, nonprofits, research organizations and associations with health information management, information and communications technology, or informatics expertise, the GHWC is focused on the advancement and adoption of the global curricula.
The thirteen members and two co-Chairs represent a cross section of expertise from around the globe. Members have demonstrated leadership in the field and possess recognition and influence within their country or region; and representation includes individuals from each of the World Health Organization regions.
The overall purpose of the GHWC is to:
- Establish a global health information curricula and competency standard that provides a framework for healthcare and education systems worldwide;
- Articulate the needs of industry, specifically those which can be addressed through health information professionalism, certification, competencies, skills demonstration, and other activities;
- Ensure a well-trained, highly skilled workforce and strategy to attain and retain health information management (HIM), health informatics (HI), and health information and communication technology (HICT) professionals; and
- Strengthen global health systems and improving population health through better collection, management and use of information.
Stevens: In September, 2015, you won another major award, a U.S. Department of Labor American Apprenticeship grant to the AHIMA Foundation. Can you provide an overview of the Managing the Talent Pipeline in Health Information Apprenticeship program?
Rudman: We are honored to be among the 46 awardees of the American Apprenticeship grants, and to have received a 5-year, $4.9 million award to advance apprenticeship opportunities in health information. Through the Managing the Talent Pipeline program, we will place 1,200 apprentices during the 5-year project period, and will create pathways in health information.
Through up-skilling and certification opportunities as well as additional professional and common employability skills training, the AHIMA Foundation will work to increase growth opportunities in the profession. We are excited about the prospect of expanding opportunities in health information for underrepresented populations, including women (single working mothers), veterans, and individuals with disabilities.
Through the four currently-registered roles – Hospital Coder/Coding Professional, Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialist, Data Analyst, and Business Analyst – as well as two new roles in leadership and revenue cycle, the AHIMA Foundation will work to embed the apprenticeship model as a standard practice in health information and other healthcare verticals. In addition, this project will allow the AHIMA Foundation to focus on conducting research to identify best practices and training standards for the profession and helping to bridge the skills gap between academic training and competencies and the skills needed to ensure workforce readiness.
Stevens: Given your extensive travel throughout the world, what country or region are you most excited about in terms of their healthcare system growth and innovation, workforce development and training efforts and their application of health information?
Rudman: We have seen tremendous interest in the global curricula in the GCC region, thanks in large part to the efforts of the members of the GHWC. The growth in this region toward the implementation and advancement of health information has been huge and the AHIMA Foundation is very excited by the relationships that we have built within the region.
The use of health information technology products and services is growing globally as countries innovate their healthcare system to improve outcomes and reduce cost. The support of both the international employer community and academia is critical to the goal of building the health information profession globally. All healthcare systems, regardless of how well-financed or organized, require sufficient numbers of well-trained and highly-skilled workers to implement and manage their health information technology systems long-term.
As these e-health technologies expand, human resources are the most critical prerequisite for the implementation and on-going management of health information technology, and require a well-trained and highly-skilled workforce. To ensure that this workforce is available, a comprehensive healthcare education and workforce strategy is needed, beginning with a solid curricula standard to guide education and training programs.
AHIMA, American Health Information Management Association, apprenticeships, GHCW, Global Health Workforce Council, U.S. Department of Commerce – International Trade Association Market Development Cooperator Program, William Rudman