Review of the Health Information Management Association Australia 2018 National Conference: engaging the next generation!

When I graduated (yes last century!), the main employment opportunities for a new graduate was in a public hospital managing their Medical Records Department – responsible for manual PMI (5x7 inch index cards), assembling, filing and retrieving paper-based records, using your analytic and problem-solving skills to locate lost records, mortality and morbidity data reporting and medico legal correspondence. Today the language of healthcare and the technology has changed. We have digitisation of health information, a plethora of data readily available for analytics and research; the beginnings of artificial intelligence within an MRD, data interoperability, and a milestone with the MyHealth Record! Yet today as highly qualified professional workforce comprising baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z some fundament ‘bug bears’ still exist e.g. storage issues (potentially electronic instead of paper), right information right place right time, reporting deadlines, poor quality information (copy and paste issues instead of illegible writing), privacy conundrums and data breaches, forms governance, skilled workforce and WHS issues (the evolution of the remote coding workforce); the list goes on.

Absolutely there is a need to engage with the next generation and promote our profession or we may not have a profession. In saying this I am a fundamental believer in harnessing the unique skills and attributes of each generation to get the best from our workforce. As pre-millennials, we have much life experience and skills from inside and outside the work environment that can be harnessed but must learn to embrace new technology and different approaches to doing business; notwithstanding that ‘change for change sake’ has no value in any organisation – we must look at what problems we are solving and the value of change. So, what did I learn from the conference? We must engage with the next generation – mentoring, embracing technological changes while educating and upskilling the older workforce. We should use opportunities to promote our profession starting with high schools, clearly promoting what we do and what our profession offers us. Finally, we should focus on diversity of employment opportunities, including my own journey from creating a digital health world through ICT transformation to moving into the world of consultancy.

As per two famous quotes from Aldus Huxley, “experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him” and “the secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm”, which I believe is epitomized by Professor Phyllis Watson’s passion for our profession.