January 2021

Susan Clark is Appointed as Chair of the AHIMA Advocacy and Policy Council: An HIT Rockstar for the People

By Adam Hayden

Introduction

Briljent’s own Susan Clark, HIT consultant and all-around HIT rock starwas recently appointed as the incoming Chair of the AHIMA Advocacy and Policy Council. Our Briljent HIT team rallies around improving people’s lives through their work, and so, Susan’s leadership matches the values of AHIMA to ensure that information stays human” because when information is human, it is relevant. 

Susan is a health information professional with more than 25 years of experience, working in several diverse sectors, including health information management, technology & implementation & optimization, managed care, state government, and quality payment programs. She seeks to create health information technology solutions to improve efficiency, data integrity, value, and reduce costsguided by improving the patient and healthcare staff experience. 

AHIMA is a leading voice and authority in health information, wherever it is found. Their mission is empowering people to impact health. AHIMA envisions a world where trusted information transforms health and healthcare by connecting people, systems, and ideas. 

 

A few words with Susan

Our social media lead sat down with Susan to learn more about this appointment and the skills that she brings to AHIMA. You’ll notice Susan’s commitment to people, her experience, and networking savvy to take a wide-angle lens to health IT. Here’s what she had to say about this prestigious appointment. 

Susan, congratulations on this appointment! Having worked with you for a couple of years now, I can think of no one better to be leading this important advocacy work. Can you tell us what attracted you to accept this role? 

 In every aspect of my life, both professional and personal, I seek to improve lives. This position allows me to utilize my 25+ years of healthcare, technology, and policy experience to motivate and inspire others to embrace this unknown future as an opportunity to shape how health information is collected, shared, and used to empower patients, healthcare providers, and government decision makers. 

We’ve come to rely on, and be inspired by, your commitment to people! You mention inspiring others to embrace uncertainty, and you are quick to empower patients and providers. How do relationships and a commitment to people motivate your day-to-day work? 

 Through my experience, I have had the gift of seeing how commenting on rules, strategies, and requests for information from CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] and ONC [Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology] truly shapes the way our healthcare ecosystem evolves. Similarly, via my AHIMA advocacy work I have witnessed how a grassroots movement can also shape legislation. It dissolved the image I once had of our legislators and federal agency staff being above me and that we must accept whatever they decide. Turns out it is more like the Wizard of Oz. These are passionate and intelligent people that have been chosen for these roles, but beyond the curtain, they are just like you and me. They don’t know everything about everything, and we need to contribute the wisdom of our experiences to be a partner in the process. Not only that, you can even be FRIENDS with them!! (I know, mind blowing, right?!)  

We love how you bring legislative and regulatory issues, concerns, and collaboration down to earth by reminding us that we each have important perspectives and skills to add value in the HIT sector. You also mentioned AHIMA advocacy work, tell us what skills you are most looking forward to bringing to the AHIMA Advocacy and Policy Council? 

 My diverse healthcare background in public health, clinical operations, managed care, technology implementation, health information exchange, quality payment programs, and state government has formed the perfect platform (stage??) for me to be able to observe the entire ecosystem. From that view, I am able to apply a more strategic approach that transcends any traditional silo as well as an understanding of dependencies and impacts to multiple stakeholders. 

You are helping us understand that attention to rules, policies, infrastructure, and a commitment to people are important components of effective health information technology. AHIMA’s 2021 advocacy agenda seeks to transform health and healthcare by connecting people, systems, and ideas. How do you imagine these priorities evolving in 2021?  

 Many have heard me say that I believe my ‘special gift’ to the world is connecting people and ideas. (#6degreesofsusanclark) When I saw the [advocacy] agenda for this year, I knew that the stars had aligned perfectly. We have a massive opportunity in front of us to capitalize on exactly this. We have a new administration, a spotlight on public health data (finally!), and a new environment in which many non-traditional data sets are being connected with clinical data to create bigger solutions for patients and communities. Health Information professionals have the training and skill sets to take a front seat in this conversation.  

There is no doubt that you are a health information professional with the right training and skill set to lead the way! Let’s connect this to your first point in the discussion, health information professionals are people, too! Can you tell us one fact that we may not find on your LinkedIn profile? 

Even though I have spent my entire adult life in healthcare, I started out with the desire to rule the stage as a rock star (thus my Health IT Rock Star title). I have minored in dance, played bass in metal bands, sang in party bands, and recently have been taking up the drums (“Seven Nation Army” is my favorite to play). I have translated that desire to be on stage to how I present my knowledge and ideas on healthcare. My most missed activities of the pandemic have been karaoke and speaking/networking at conferences.  

Health IT Rockstar, Susan Clark, with Bass Guitar
Health IT Rockstar, Susan Clark, with Bass Guitar

Susancongrats on the appointment to the AHIMA Advocacy and Policy Council. We can’t wait to see how your experience, intersecting roles, and commitment to people continue to push the limits of health IT! 

To connect with Susan, find her on LinkedIn, or drop her a note anytime. Learn more about Briljent’s HIT Service Offering on our website. 

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