Ann Chenoweth (Medical Records, ’80) has seen an uncommon amount of success in the field of Health Information Management, having held numerous leadership positions with the multinational 3M Company, including her current position overseeing its Health Information System’s industry relations. She is also Past President and Chair of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the national organization that supports health information professionals with certifications, training, and education. But for Chenoweth, working in the health information field is in and of itself the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
“I made the decision when I was 14 years old that I wanted to pursue a career in health information management,” Chenoweth remembers. “The mother of a classmate was the assistant director of health information management at a hometown hospital and she was extremely generous with her time – allowing me to shadow her after school. I was soon hooked. I found that the profession was a perfect combination of healthcare and business management and I’ve never regretted this decision.”
At IUPUI, Chenoweth found the perfect environment to nurture her passion. “The health information program at IUPUI had an excellent reputation with employers in the marketplace. Consequently, program graduates were actively pursued by employers and I was fortunate to have three job offers before graduating.”
Chenoweth believes the program at IUPUI was excellent preparation for a career in the health information field. “For HIM professionals, the professional practice experience (PPE) is an important part of student education and is a catalyst toward career development. It certainly was for me. By working in hospitals with such professionals, I learned a great deal about the various health information functions in both a large, complex, and often chaotic tertiary teaching environment as well as in a small rural facility. I was able to develop my leadership and communication skills and these opportunities certainly contributed to my readiness as a new HIM graduate entering the field. Within a few weeks of my PPE, I moved to Chicago to start my new job as a manager in the health information management department at Cook County Hospital.”
Chenoweth was hired at 3M in 2001, where she ran a recently acquired $25 million business. She revamped and increased its operating income from $4 million to $10 million in one fiscal year. She also led the redesign of the flagship health information coding solution utilized by 80% of the hospitals in the United States that increased revenue by $17 million over three years, which led to her current position as Senior Director of Industry Relations for 3M Health Information Services. “I was selected by the president of 3M HIS to lead this new initiative to expand 3M’s brand and enhance 3M thought leadership throughout the healthcare industry,” says Chenoweth. “I am also responsible for identifying and executing market research for the 3M strategic plan and other corporate initiatives.”
Chenoweth sees health information management professionals as having an even more vital role in the future of the healthcare field. “Big data is exploding. Exponential leaps are being made in advanced analytics—resulting in a rapid transformation on how physicians and hospitals treat patients and track diseases. Every day, new sensors and wearables are being created, enabling patients to share clinical information real-time with their providers. Enthusiasm for telemedicine continues to grow. It is an incredible time to work in this field because health information is at the heart of this transformation. But health information management professionals understand information governance and data management. We understand coding, analytics, privacy, and quality. We understand reimbursement. We understand how to optimize clinical documentation in the electronic health record. And it is only with this knowledge that our industry can reward value, lower cost, and make the healthcare experience better for the patients our organizations serve.”
When asked what advice she could give our current HIM students, Chenoweth said the following: “The healthcare industry will continue to change rapidly and to succeed in the health information management profession, we must be open minded, flexible, and willing to go beyond the responsibilities of our current job descriptions, so never say “that’s not my job and never shrink from an opportunity-but instead go over and above, which is the path I chose. Going beyond our traditional boundaries creates opportunities for all of us.”