What to Expect at AHIMA 2013

With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act due to start enrolling people in October, the upcoming American Health Information Management Association convention promises to be an interesting one for attendees.

While most of the buzz will be around how health information managers are responding to the ACA, the choice of Atlanta for the 2013 convention will provide a chance for people to walk the Georgia World Congress Center and check out some of the exhibits.

This is the 85th annual AHIMA convention, and over 225 exhibitors will be present to share the latest health information news.

The majority of exhibitors at AHIMA specialize in health care and health information, with medical billing and coding one of the prime areas covered. This is especially important with the implementation of the ACA about to take place (barring any further executive actions by the White House or Congress) as what is covered by insurance and the codes used to form a patient’s bill and medical charts may radically change in the near future.

It isn’t just about the ACA, however. There is the chance to have a little fun at the convention, and the choice of keynote speaker will provide an interesting discussion. Actor Henry Winkler (“Happy Days”) and actress Marlee Matlin (“Children of a Lesser God”) will discuss their medical histories, specifically Winkler’s struggles with dyslexia and Matlin’s adversity at being a deaf actress in Hollywood. By sharing these stories, they hope to inspire and prove to others that it is possible to overcome adversity to achieve their goals.

Actress Anna Deavere Smith, who wrote the hit play “Let Me Down Easy” and has numerous acting credits under her belt, including a stint on the Showtime series “Nurse Jackie”, also will discuss the role health care plays in the spirit of the human body.

Attendees of AHIMA will walk the halls of the Georgia World Congress Center, which features close to 4 million square feet of exhibitor space. The facility is so big in fact that it has actually hosted Olympic events including weightlifting as part of the 1996 Summer Games. Walking the facilities is exercise in itself, which is appropriate given the convention deals with health care and health information management.

If you are in need of food or beverage, there are numerous dining facilities on-site.  There are other amenities available as well such as the copying facilities that many people use.

Patient-centered care, medical coding, and accountable care are among the categories the exhibitors cover each year at AHIMA. With more of an emphasis on computerized records, the paper trail for each patient is growing smaller and smaller each year. This is good for a hospital or medical practice’s sustainability rating. Using less and less paper results in less paper waste every year. Less use of paper and more use of computer records means less cost overall, and that can bolster the bottom line.

With visits planned to such Atlanta facilities as the Centers for Disease Control, Georgia Tech University and Emory Healthcare, exhibitors and attendees can get firsthand glimpses at how each hospital operates and how they are planning for the future in health care.

Attendees also get to enjoy one of the South’s largest cities, which is a magnet for visitors from all around the world and the United States. Atlanta’s numerous neighborhoods and vast downtown area provide chances for exhibitors to unwind and enjoy the arts and restaurants.

There are still a lot of questions to answer. Things could radically change in a few years, depending on how well the ACA is implemented. For now, you need to stay on top of the latest developments and how it will affect the bottom line.