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First Day of AHIMA20 Features Focus on Privacy, Security, and Interoperability

CHICAGO – October 14, 2020 – The first day of the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference featured an international panel titled The Global Impact of Pandemics on Privacy Regulations at the meeting’s opening general session. Panelists focused on how governments must strike a balance between combatting pandemics while ensuring citizens feel their health data is private and secure.

They also discussed how privacy laws and expectations vary between countries. Clayton Hamilton, technical officer, public health services and digitalization of health systems at the World Health Organization, and Erik Jylling, MD, executive vice president of health politics at Danish Regions, talked about contact tracing in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hamilton highlighted the positives of digital contact tracing – like not having to rely on citizens to remember who they came in contact with – as well as its privacy concerns.

Two Americans on the panel, Joy Pritts, principal at Pritts Consulting and former chief privacy officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), and Kaveh Safavi, senior managing director of global health at Accenture, spoke about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the possibility of an update to it. Both Pritts and Safavi said it’s unlikely that overarching privacy legislation will be passed in the months following to 2020 US elections. Pritts did note that there is increased recognition from stakeholders that not having a federal privacy law has made addressing the COVID-19 pandemic more complicated.

Ginna Evans, MBA, RHIA, CPC, CRC, FAHIMA, AHIMA’s 2020 president/chair, also spoke at the opening general session.

“The work of AHIMA and health information professionals has never been more crucial than these past six months,” she said. “The pandemic has emphasized our commitment to AHIMA’s mission of empowering people to impact health and we are showing that health data is a critical element in healthcare.”

Panelists at Bringing Together Clinical and Administrative Data discussed the two primary streams of health data – administrative and clinical – and how they can be more easily integrated. They also talked about how the separation of these two streams impacts providers, payors, and patients. Panelists included Thomas A. Mason, MD, ONC’s chief medical officer; Jennifer Mueller, MBA, RHIA, FACHE, FAHIMA, vice president and privacy officer at the Wisconsin Hospital Association; and Chantal Worzala, PhD, of Alazro Consulting. Dr. Mason spoke with the Journal of AHIMA ahead of his appearance on the panel.

AHIMA20 resumes tomorrow, October 15, with dozens of education sessions, a virtual exhibit hall, the kickoff to the Pitch Competition, and more.

Editor’s note: Reporters interested in covering the meeting as a credentialed journalist should email Mike Bittner, AHIMA’s media and communications manager.


AHIMA is a global nonprofit association of health information (HI) professionals. AHIMA represents professionals who work with health data for more than one billion patient visits each year. AHIMA’s mission of empowering people to impact health drives our members and credentialed HI professionals to ensure that health information is accurate, complete, and available to patients and providers. Our leaders work at the intersection of healthcare, technology, and business, and are found in data integrity and information privacy job functions worldwide.

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