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June 2020: From the Chair

MJFlynn-2019-(5).jpgAs 2020 reaches the halfway mark, it would be an understatement to say the year is unfolding in remarkable ways for all of us, professionally and personally.   2020 has certainly been an exercise in finding our balance as we adjust to the shifting ground beneath our feet.
 
For me, June 2020 marks the conclusion of the first half of my term as Chair of your AHIA Board and the beginning of my professional retirement from my position at UCare.  I have been fortunate to work in a number of healthcare roles over the past 40 plus years, but the one I have enjoyed the most is that of leading Internal Audit teams. That is one of the reasons that I am so pleased to be able to end my professional career as an AHIA Board member. I am happy to do my small part in supporting such a great organization.
 
The Board is working hard to lead AHIA through the “new reality” emerging before our eyes. We have mobilized to deliver at least three additional free-to-members webinars, we are currently evaluating our very first virtual “discussion forum” last week on Covid-19 Funding Sources.  AHIA members are very fortunate to be led by a dedicated and proactive Board of Directors and supported by our many committed and caring volunteers and staff.  With so much to do, we are always looking for more helpers. Please consider volunteering your time on a committee or presenting an educational topic. Your involvement is what keeps AHIA meaningful and current.

You may want to consider running for a board position. The AHIA Call for Board of Directors nominations is open and we are calling on the next generation of AHIA leaders to step up and get started.   We are currently seeking members who are interested in advancing our mission and strategic plan. In times like these, leaders find the time to give back. Please consider joining us.
 
Additionally, the Board and Annual Conference Committee have opted to delay the opening of the 39th AHIA Annual Conference registration.  As we monitor the situation and your survey feedback, the Board is taking this time to make decisions on how best to deliver the conference content.  We are working to ensure that the 2020 Annual Conference content will be made available to you one way or another. We expect to make a decision about holding the conference in Seattle this September, moving to a virtual meeting, or offering some combination of forums by end of July 2020. We thank you for your continued patience as we navigate the current state and protect our members. You can expect more direct communication and the registration program to launch later this month.

As I write about the activities going on within AHIA, I find it difficult to focus on everyday details when surrounded by so many lifechanging national happenings. As a long-time resident of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, I am truly heartsick at recent events. These are indeed challenging times, but during times of great challenge, new opportunities for change emerge. I can only hope that the current challenges brought on by the pandemic, the civil rights issues, and the erosion of social trust on the national stage, will result in meaningful conversations that lead to positive change.  This is not a political forum, so I will just add my hope for the rest of 2020. May we all find a way to contribute toward a healthier society and show compassion to those grieving so many losses, whether they are due to social injustice or to Covid-19.   
 
Sincerely,
Mary Jo Flynn
AHIA Board Chair


May 2020: From the Chair
 
MJFlynn-2019-(4).jpgBest laid plans... As all of our lives revolve around contingency planning, you can count on AHIA working behind the scenes to prepare.  We have decided to delay the unveiling of the 39th AHIA Annual Conference registration until mid-May, as the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. 
 
May finds us watching states open up to varying degrees. We transition from “stay at home” to “safer at home” with “mask mandates” when venturing out. We are aware of health system and hospital travel restrictions and the devastating budgetary impacts. We wait with eager anticipation the next set of recommendations and hope for good outcomes. But as auditors and risk managers, we are not sitting idly by, we are planning to deliver the OUTSTANDING content of the 39th Annual Conference to you one way or another. 
 
If cancellation of the live event is dictated by the situation, we will adapt and are already working behind the scenes on contingency plans and doing proof of concepts on virtual meetings. I wanted to dedicate my column to some high level “Q&A” to share what is next:
 
Will the AHIA Annual Conference take place in Seattle this September?
While the official guidance and mandates from world, federal, state and municipal government could stop us from moving forward, until we know more about the options and the risk,  we must continue  with registration for the live event.  The best case scenario is that we are able to hold the conference as planned and will see you in Seattle this September with safety/infection control mandates in place (hotel staff cleaning all microphones, masks, sanitization stations, etc.). It is too early to begin hotel discussions. The final decisions on how the conference will unfold will be made in late July.
 
We are carefully monitoring the presenter participation. As of May 4, we have had one session cancel out of over 80+ sessions. Our presenters have proven to be understanding and flexible.  We will add timely new topics such as new waivers affecting Stark and Anti-Kickback, and new guidance for telehealth delivery.  Our session track leaders and conference chair are working behind the scenes to ensure content remains relevant.
 
For attendees, sponsors and exhibitors, we are offering a “worry free refund guarantee” as well as a continually updated COVID-19 information as outlined in the preliminary program.
 
What are our options?
AHIA is very fortunate given the timing of our meeting in regard to the timing of the pandemic. As July approaches, we will have a better sense of the environmental factors at hand.  We are also extremely well protected with insurance and a hotel contract inclusive of “reluctance to travel,” “rebooking without penalty,” and more.
 
Should the live event be unable to move forward, in total or in part, we are already working behind the scenes to evaluate, study and  gather the requirements for the following:

  • Hybrid virtual and in-person event
  • Full virtual meeting
  • Webinar packages by “track”

 
The staff is implementing virtual events as I type this and studying the lessons learned from other groups (so many other groups had to shift in real time this spring). We will keep our stakeholders informed with every decision on the status of the conference.
 
Will the AHIA Annual Conference session be recorded?
The majority of presenters have authorized recording permission for their 2020 session(s).  We plan to record those sessions and have them available for purchase, by the session or by package. Recordings are not valid for CPE credit.
 
What’s New for 2020?
We have some wonderful improvements for our next live conference. Significant investments have been made to allow badge scan CPE tracking. NO MORE CARBON COPY, SELF-COMPLETION CPE Certificate stapling parties for our attendees!  We will also house the CPE tracking electronically for your ease of access.  Onsite self-badge printing and easy access to your selected session schedule are also being implemented.
 
In the meantime, AHIA is offering an expanded number of free-to-members webinars to ensure access to CPE credits, virtually.  We will be hosting our first virtual CAE Roundtable in June.  Most importantly, all hands are on deck to deliver the 39th Annual Conference program content to you no matter what the landscape looks like as we approach fall 2020.
 
We expect much more clarity by July.  Of course, NO ONE knows what September will bring at this time – but we hope that knowing we are ready with solutions to accommodate the situation gives some comfort and hope to our members. Thank you for your patience and trust.  All of us at AHIA send our best wishes to you for continued safety and wellness.  Never hesitate to contact us at [email protected] with questions or if we can be of service to you.
 
Sincerely,
Mary Jo Flynn
AHIA Board Chair


April 2020: From the Chair 

MJFlynn-2019-(3).jpgWe are all experiencing something none of us have ever experienced.  There is no algorithm, no template, no body of knowledge for this.  What the collective healthcare community has done to mobilize in this crisis --- to get us to this point of preparedness --- is awe-inspiring, and makes me infinitely proud. That said, it is a very precarious situation at the moment.
 
I am writing this column just as we are starting to see the slowdown of cases in New York, while my home state of Minnesota is still readying hospitals for our expected peak in the next 3-4 weeks. As a registered nurse, I know that we must continue to provide care and services in a time when the usual procedures no longer apply.  As an auditor, I see the risk for increased fraud, patient injury and drug diversion because the situation demands fewer controls.   Precarious times, indeed.
 
Watching this happening around us has created an environment of uncertainty and anxiety.  Trying to navigate the crisis calls for new thinking and making decisions most of us have never had to grapple with before. The result of all this can be decision-fatigue. It not exclusive to healthcare or those on the front lines.  We are all experiencing it on some level. It is important, especially during stress full times, that we continue to take care of ourselves as best we can.  Here is an article on decision fatigue from several years ago, however provides some strategies to address what you may be experiencing now: How To Identify Decision Fatigue.
 
I know you are all managing so much, personally and professionally and circumstances vary widely.  I am happy to see so many reaching out on the AHIA Connected Community for knowledge and experience sharing – the long standing foundation that built AHIA is the same that will see us through.  From accessing FEMA funds and telemedicine considerations to event reporting and remote staffing, we are monitoring your conversations to develop subject matter knowledge and education to address your most urgent needs.  Never hesitate to share your needs with AHIA leadership directly at [email protected].
 
As we look toward what’s next, it is with great energy and optimism that I announce AHIA’s 39th Annual Conference registration will open next week.  We will move forward until such time as cancellation is a viable option.  Only time will tell. Be assured that the Board of Directors and staff are weighing all contingencies in an effort to deliver this outstanding education content to the healthcare internal audit community, no matter what external environmental factors apply. We are hopeful, but cautious, that we will be connecting with you face-to-face in Seattle, September 20-23, 2020). AHIA, its members and conference attendees are well protected by our hotel contract and event insurance – and our WORRY-FREE cancellation guarantee, should the state of affairs or travel/budget restrictions necessitate cancellation.
 
In the meantime, do you need CPE?  For free?  I wish to thank the members of AHIA Virtual Learning Committee, and its subcommittees, for their fast actions to serve our members’ emerging need for online education.  With AHIA Webinar offerings last week, next week and several more scheduled and more to come, check the AHIA Calendar of Events frequently to take advantage.  We will be offering a 2-credit ethics webinar in June to help members maintain critical licensure requirements, as applicable. Our appreciation to the following volunteers for making this possible:
 
Education Co-Chair for Virtual Learning: Susan Smoger
Tech Talk Subcommittee Chair: Mark Stacey
Paul Douglas
Robert Gentile
Kenny Kumata, CHIAP
John Lefter
Johan Lidros
Mary Potter
EHR Auditor User Group – Epic Chair: Dieu Tran
Lisa Cavitt, CHIAP
Robert Damiano
Kwoklin Lee
Robert Morgan
Deborah Radke, CHIAP
Ian Sterrett
Webinars Subcommittee Chair: Russell Harder
Janice Brotherton
Melissa Jolly-Sprague, CHIAP
Sam Rosenbaum
Beth Timmerman, CHIAP
Kimberly Wilson, CHIAP
 
We thank ALL AHIA MEMBERS for your continued trust in AHIA. You are the reason we do what we do.  Take care and I hope to see you in September.
 
Sincerely,
Mary Jo Flynn
AHIA Board Chair


March 2020: From the Chair
MJFlynn-2019-(2).jpg
Just a week ago, I had a much different column ready for the March edition of AHIA’s e-News.  Now, as we face an unprecedented world health pandemic, I am thinking of you and the personal and professional impact of navigating COVID-19 containment and mitigation strategies. Being in healthcare, our organizations are on the front lines of responding to this crisis.  The speed of change has greatly accelerated and we are being bombarded with updates and sometimes conflicting information.
 
I encourage all members, event attendees, and others to stay on top of developments regarding the coronavirus, heed any guidance or directives from authorities in your area, and practice appropriate protective health measures. AHIA is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation, relying on credible information from respected organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other federal, state, and local agencies in the United States and globally.
 
From a business continuity perceptive, AHIA remains open for business, with all recommended safety protocols in place. Our association management staff has always had remote work capabilities and will continue to cover AHIA operations, customer service, virtual learning and more without disruption. 
 
The 39th AHIA Annual Conference is scheduled for September 20-23, 2020 in Seattle.  Registration will open as planned in April.  I have seen the conference program, developed under the leadership of Jackye Thompson and the members of Annual Conference Planning Committee, and it is EXTRAORDINARY!  The AHIA Board of Directors continues to closely monitor the Covid 19 situation and is discussing all contingencies.  With the conference being in the fall, we have the benefit of time to continue watching as it unfolds.   Rest assured that we will take the appropriate steps to safeguard our members once the path becomes clear. In the meantime,  you are safe to plan ahead and register in April knowing that we will keep you informed.
 
Your AHIA Board, Committee leaders and staff are here for you and want to ensure you are taking good care of yourself, your families and those you serve. The American Psychological Association website has excellent material on coping resources for dealing with this pandemic. 


We will be posting other resources  for you on the AHIA website shortly. Stay calm, practice good physical and social hygiene techniques.  Thank you for your support.  Should you have any questions, always feel empowered to reach out to us at [email protected].
 
Sincerely,
Mary Jo Flynn
AHIA Board Chair



February 2020: From the Chair
MJFlynn-2019-(1).jpgFebruary is the shortest month of the year. Even though 2020 is a leap year, giving us an extra day this month, it doesn't mean that February is not one of the busiest months of the year. Leap day itself is a corrective measure adopted the world over because the earth does not orbit the sun precisely in 365 days. This extra day could be considered a gift.  I suggest we all take a moment to consider how to put it to the best possible use.  
 
What will you do with your extra day?
 
I encourage you deepen your engagement with AHIA and your healthcare internal audit peers.  Volunteers are the fuel that power professional associations. With every new volunteer, AHIA grows more energized, more diverse and inclusive, and better equipped to reach our common goals.  It being our goal to empower tomorrow's healthcare internal audit leaders through professional growth opportunities, we are pleased to offer a variety of ways for our members to get involved, from short-term opportunities to ongoing committees, task forces, and board service. As an association, AHIA is very fortunate to have a wealth of talented professionals driving our activities in triple figures, but we can always use more hands and fresh blood, especially with membership at an all-time high for January 2020.  To discuss the opportunities, contact [email protected] with your interest.
 
Speaking of volunteering, your Board of Directors recently returned from a two-day, in-person meeting in Seattle to discuss organizational strategy, committee alignment, adaptability, communication tactics, priorities and resource allocation. The collective AHIA Committee leadership is off to a running start, equipped with the freshly approved budget for 2020, and the charge of developing the tactics toward the achievement our strategic commitments, which include:

  • Expanding Membership
  • Collaborating with Like-minded Stakeholders
  • Growing Revenue Streams
  • Enhancing Education Programs
  • Supporting Certification

 
When you’re an AHIA volunteer you are part of a vibrant community of dedicated people working together successfully for real change in our profession. Make the “leap” this year and join us as an active volunteer.
 
Sincerely,
Mary Jo Flynn
AHIA Board Chair

January 2020: From the Chair
MJFlynn-2019.jpgWelcome to 2020! I am very humbled to be your AHIA Board Chair this year. It is an honor to serve you, this wonderful association, and the profession of healthcare internal auditing.

Your board has been hard at work! A new budget has been approved, orientation for new Board members conducted, and year end financials are in process. All the usual new year activities are in full swing and on track.

Right now, we are prepping for our in-person board meeting that will be held later this week in Seattle, the site of the 2020 AHIA 39th Annual Conference. While there, we will discuss future strategies and tactics to continue to strengthen the benefits AHIA brings to our members.

You can expect to see some exciting changes from AHIA this year, specifically at the Annual Conference. We will implement badge scanning, online CPE tracking/certificates and more to modernize our technologies for attendee and presenter ease of use. Gone is the flurry of the five-page, duo-carbon CPE tracking form stapling frenzy that traditionally ended the conference. We will keep you posted on the improvements and hope you will join us there. Save the dates, September 20-23, 2020 at the Seattle Grand Sheraton.

I also encourage you to get involved this year. It takes a village to make any association evolve. I have been enriched personally and professionally from my engagement with AHIA. There are so many ways to contribute... You can volunteer on a committee, write an article, present a webinar, “like” an AHIA social media post, get advice on the Connected Community or get CHIAP certified. Your participation is very welcome in any way that works for you. Reach out to our Executive Director, Michelle, at 303-919-4585 or [email protected] to discuss the opportunities anytime!

Thank you for the privilege of being your Board Chair. I have been in leadership long enough to know that leaders don't always get to pick the issues that come across our desks. No matter what challenges present, I want our members to know that the Board of Directors is here to make decisions in the best interests of you and the profession. Your opinions and concerns always matter. Please reach out to us at any time.

Sincerely,
Mary Jo Flynn
AHIA Board Chair