New AHIMA president, board members begin terms

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon
 - Diann Smith, MS
Diann Smith, MS

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) began 2018 with several new leaders, including president and board chair Diann Smith, MS, taking office along with a new speaker and three new board members.

Smith’s one-year term began Monday, Jan. 1. She currently serves as vice president of HIM services and clinical documentation improvement at Arlington, Texas-based Texas Health Resources. Her other professional roles have included serving as chair of AHIMA’s ethics committee, an AHIMA board members and president of the Texas Health Information Management Association (TXHIMA).

In an interview with HealthExec at the 2017 AHIMA conference, Smith emphasized the need for industry groups to work with regulators, providers and vendors to advance interoperability.

“It’s huge and I don’t think one particular group owns it. We all have to own it,” she said. “A lot of our professionals are concerned about the quality of the information and correct, positive patient identification, especially because there is lack of interoperability. So, they’re starting to do a lot more work in that area.”

Smith will be succeeded in 2019 by president- and chair-elect Valerie Watzlaf, PhD, MPH, an associate professor in the HIM department at the University of Pittsburgh. Catherine Porto, MPA, executive director of health information at University of New Mexico Hospitals in Albuquerque, N.M, was selected as the association’s new Speaker of the House.

Three new board members were also selected to serve three-year terms:

  • Seth Katz, MPH, associate administrator of information management at Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Mo.
  • Kim Theodos, JD, MS, assistant professor of health studies at the University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Melinda Wilkins, PhD, professor and director of health informatics and HIM programs at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Ark.

AHIMA hasn’t made any further announcements about its search for a permanent CEO, which had been launched in October 2017 after the June departure of Lynne Thomas Gordon. Pamela Lane, MS, has continued to serve as interim CEO and non-voting member of the board.

“Board members have an important role in steering the association toward a sustainable and successful future,” Lane said in a statement. “This distinguished group will help us move forward and advance AHIMA's strategy.”