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Upskilling the Health Information Workforce in the Age of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being embraced by some health information (HI) professionals and greeted with skepticism by others. Among the questions from both sides: Will professionals need new training and updated skills to work in an AI environment, and will jobs be replaced by AI?

On April 19, AHIMA presented the free webinar Upskilling the Health Information Workforce in the Age of AI to address how AI is reshaping roles and skills in the industry. The panel of three experts for the session featured Isaac Hodes, head of product, provider at Datavant, where he leads the development of technology solutions in the HI space; Jami Woebkenberg, MHIM, RHIA, CPHI, FAHIMA, senior director of HIM Operations at Banner Health in Phoenix, AZ; and Susan Fenton, PhD, RHIA, ACHIP, FAMIA, a professor and vice dean for education at the University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics in Houston, TX.

Panelists shared their thoughts about a survey by NORC and AHIMA that showed 52 percent of survey respondents said their organization plans to increase use of AI/machine learning (ML) in the next 12 months. Three in four survey respondents recommended upskilling of the current workforce for the HI profession to succeed amid increased adoption of AI/ML tools.

Here are three key takeaways from the panel discussion:

  • AI tools have the potential to transform job functions and reduce burdens placed on the HI workforce. Panelists noted that many organizations are increasingly turning to assistive, augmentative, and autonomous tools powered by AI to address workforce shortages, staff turnover, and burnout within the HI profession.
  • Technology advancements could alleviate some repetitive and manual tasks in traditional HI job functions, leading to new opportunities that may require upskilling of the workforce. HI professionals should understand how their healthcare organization is using AI and how they may need to get additional training to update existing skills. At the same time, employers should be clear about the role of AI at their organization and make sure employees understand how they fit in and may need retraining.
  • HI professionals need to be willing to adapt their roles and be open to upskilling as more workplaces embrace AI. HI professionals and students should embrace the idea of continuous learning, and keep up with resources and tools that will help them update their skills in this evolving landscape.

A recording of the webinar is available online. In addition, AHIMA offers resources online to help HI professionals navigate the way forward with AI.

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