A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge  
© SCUP 2003
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Transforming e-Knowledge

Title Page
Advisory Committee

Chapter List
  1. What is e-Knowledge?
  2. Vignettes from the e-Knowledge Future
  3. Paths to the e-Knowledge Future
  4. Technologies, Standards, and Marketplaces for e-Knowledge
  5. Infrastructures, Processes, Capabilities, and Cultures
  6. Best Practices, Business Models, and Strategies
  7. Achieving Success in the Emerging e-Knowledge Industry
  8. Resources



American Health Information Management Association

The American Health Information Management System’s (AHIMA) motto is “quality healthcare through quality information.” AHIMA represents 40,000 professionals serving the information needs of the U.S. healthcare system, as manifested by managing, analyzing, and utilizing the data used in the patient’s record.

Assessment of AHIMA’s Current Stage of Development

AHIMA has launched a variety of infrastructure development initiatives and expeditions in e-business development. The following describes these initiatives and the stage of e-business product development they represent.

  • Website/Portal Development. For several years, AHIMA has been using its Website to offer digitized versions of products and services. AHIMA has involved a technology partner in the redesign of its Website into a first generation portal, which went live on October 15, 2001. The password-protected portal gives AHIMA members access to communities of practice, e-learning offerings, and other products and services.

  • Body of Knowledge. As an act of leadership in its profession and industry, AHIMA has defined and codified the body of knowledge for health information management. Through the portal, stakeholders can access many of the BOK resources, with some of the best resources being reserved for members.

    Through defining and codifying the body of knowledge, AHIMA determined that it was missing a critical piece of the BOK: comprehensive and contemporary textbooks to support basic HIM education. Moving quickly, AHIMA has published Health Information: An Integrated Approach, edited by Merida L. Johns, Ph.D, RHIA, which supports a model curriculum for two-year programs. AHIMA is following up with a similarly dominant textbook for four-year programs.

  • Communities of Practice. AHIMA has invested substantial resources in creating communities of practice as a mean of migrating its members’ energies away from governance and static special interest groups and toward a more vibrant set of communities based on emerging issues and interests. The purpose of this expedition was to improve practice in two ways. First, by creating positive outlets that reflect the changing face of practice and growing diversity of roles. Second, by redirecting energies from time-consuming activities like governance which are of little importance to most members. The design for these communities was member-directed regarding what communities are formed, and the communities in which members choose to participate. For 2002 a significant enhancement plan is offered, including an enhanced job bnk and other new applications.

  • E-Learning. AHIMA has created an “Interactive Learning Campus” which is available to nonmembers and members through the portal. In addition, AHIMA has licensed Web content through a third-party agreement, for distribution in other marketplaces. AHIMA’s certificate program is also available through the Website. AHIMA has several Internet training programs that lead to certificates of completion. They have also migrated two of their four certification exams from paper-and-pencil format to computer- based, although they are not yet Web-based.

  • E-Publishing. Newsletters have been migrated online. Many online resources, including journals and practice briefs, are available through the Body of Knowledge, which is available to members, only. AHIMA has kept a good selection of information available on the public Web site, since they want to remain valuable to the non-member public. This results in a conscious duplication of information useful to the health care industry and the consumer.

  • Virtual Trade Show. AHIMA is developing an online vendor directory that will shpwcase all exhibitors, including their logos and links. They are also allowing their corporate affiliates to create online users groups for their customers.

  • Governance. AHIMA has shaken up its approach to governance through the community of practice model. The full impact of this change is still a work in progress. The early design of communities of practice required substantial staff effort. The challenge for the future is how to incentivize members to take ownership of this process. Communities must ebb and flow in a self-regulating way, based on changing needs and interests.

  • E-Meetings. AHIMA is in the process of infusing virtual resources into its physical meetings and trade show experiences.

  • Job Service. The portal contains a first-generation career and placement service.

  • Creating Memorable, Indispensable Experiences for Members and Customers. For several years, AHIMA has been Webifying information, products and services. It has just launched its portal venture, so it is premature to expect AHIMA to have discovered the formula for indispensability, just yet.

  • Enhancing Membership. This is a central issue for AHIMA, whose membership numbers have been “soft” in recent years, due to declining enrollment in academic feeder programs. AHIMA is launching a major workforce study to document the need for practitioners to help in student recruitment, marketing the profession, and making long-term decisions about academic requirements for the field. They are broadening their membership recruitment and retention efforts. As part of this effort, they are reaching out to potential members who have shown an interest in AHIMA’s information resources. Working with component state organizations, they plan to improve their 90% retention rates.

  • Reinventing Revenue Streams. AHIMA has invested substantially in Web and portal infrastructure and in learning, BOK, and other resources. It has not yet experienced gains in revenues from traditional sources, or substantial revenues from new sources such as the licensing of Web content or the creation of new certificate programs.


Stage of Development. This is a substantial record of accomplishment over the past several years. Taken as a whole, AHIMA’s Webified products and services – learning, publishing, body of knowledge, communities of practice – are at various levels of Stage #1 and/or Stage #2 in their development. They have been migrated to the Web and are being refined and modified by feedback from users. Some of these products look just like the physical; versions, others have evolved into new forms. AHIMA’s efforts to blend physical and virtual resources in its meetings and other events are developing, but not yet mature. Its portal infrastructure has just been launched, so it is too early to expect it to have fused products and services and created indispensable, new experiences. But it is poised to do so.

Typical of associations churning through the stages of development, AHIMA is going back to revisit design and product issues made earlier in its evolution. For example, they are going back to redesign the basic Website, which will be far more public than when it was a major source of member-access to association knowledge resources.

The prospects for AHIMA’s continued development are excellent. The necessary pieces of its infrastructure and expeditionary products and services are in place for AHIMA to evolve and move up the evolutionary ladder. It is positioned to make the shift from a product orientation to an organizational orientation in e-business development.


Where Could AHIMA BE in 3-5 Years?

First, where is AHIMA going? Second, how will it get there?

The Recognized Source of Insight. Within three years, AHIMA’s Website and portal will be the utility used by AHIMA stakeholders – members, customers, policy makers, other health care professionals, patients, and the public at large – to access and interact with information, knowledge, and insight in the domain of health care information.

Website Services Are More Robust. AHIMA’s Website is its instrument for serving the public at large, and advancing the profession and industry. AHIMA will evolve its Website to make many resources available free to the general public and to charge customers for access to a variety of resources from the body of knowledge, learning, certificate, and publications resources. The communities of practice will generate insights that can be sold on a subscription basis to non-members. Avid customers may become members to take advantage of the member discount or the excitement of being part of the interactivity; many customers may be satisfied with consuming insights. AHIMA will reach substantially more customers and stakeholders than members, either directly through its Website/portal, or indirectly through third-party licensing agreements that reach other marketplaces. To be successful, AHIMA must reach out to a far broader audience with content and insight.

An Indispensable, Perpetual Resource for Members. For AHIMA members, the password-protected portal will become their indispensable resource for information, knowledge, insight, and interactivity about their profession within the context of the healthcare industry. As AHIMA gains experience with portal-based interactivity, it will reshape its portal design and today’s boundaries around products will become permeable and eventually non-existent. For avid portal users, other services may be demanded:

  • New kinds of communities, including “virtual guilds” of experts;
  • Personal calendaring and scheduling;
  • More advanced and sophisticated utilization of the “best-of-breed” knowledge management tools that are part of its infrastructure;
  • Maintaining a lifelong transcript of courses, learnings, and competencies - integration of continuing education with online credentialing maintenance;
  • More active career development and counseling services; and
  • News services, shopping, and personal development services.

The portal will enable AHIMA to reshape its value proposition with members and raise revenues.

The true power of the portal-base experiences lies in the developing competencies of members and customers to take active roles in the creation, sharing, and utilization of cutting-edge insights on the changing profession and health care information industry.

A Portal to the Profession. AHIMA’s most strategic new initiative over the next several years is to use manpower research, advocacy, and portal development to shape the future of the profession/industry:

  • Understand the emerging manpower needs of the profession/industry,
  • Shape the academic and professional programs developing practitioners; and
  • Provide students with access to portal resources and interactivity, as a key part of their socialization to the profession and to develop a habituation to the perpetual resources available through the portal.

The portal experience should be part of every academic program. AHIMA’s Portal-based resources should be introduced into every health care environment as an essential resource. This initiative will develop the pipeline for the profession and AHIMA membership and for customers for AHIMA’s products, services, and experiences.

How to Do It? AHIMA has completed the first chapter of its evolution as an Internet Age association. AHIMA has most of the ingredients in place to achieve this 3-5 year vision, and more: Web/portal infrastructure, first-generation Webified products and services, and staff and members with some experience in the continuous adaptation of Web-based products, services, and experiences. While its existing expeditions can serve as the foundations for good migration paths, several elements are needed.

New Business Models/Recalibrated Revenues. As its expeditions evolve, AHIMA should recalibrate all of its revenue streams. New business models are needed for serving customers and even members. Alternative budgets should be developed to model the impact of these changes.

An Aggressive Vision and Plan for Shaping the Manpower Profile of the Profession/Industry. The research-driven initiative to shape the future profile of the industry, including academic preparation and portal-based socialization and resources, is absolutely key.

Ideas for Evolving Website/Portal Capabilities. Even though it is brand new, the portal is a work in progress. Ideas will emerge with use and from examining other settings – such as leading portals in universities.

Insights on How to Continuously Adapt Products, Services, and Experiences. These insights will emerge with practice and the experience of AHIMA users. But they need to be informed by insights from other settings, as well.

Organizational Change. Changing organizational culture has been a key issue for AHIMA throughout its community and portal development process. AHIMA is moving into the stage of its development where its expeditions will dramatically affect its organization and culture. In some senses it is already there. This will be an even greater issue over the next 3-5 years.


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