The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) was founded in 1928. By 1935, the organization’s leadership had acknowledged the need for a formal curriculum model when it comes to medical record librarians. This field of study is now more commonly known as health information management (HIM).
In 2003, it was noted by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) House of Delegates that the field of health information management was a strong and unique area of study. It was then decided that CAHIIM should have the ability to conduct and confirm actions concerning accreditation for all HIM programs and the growing field of health informatics (HI) was to be incorporated into that scope as well.
To most people, these two areas of study seem very similar. On the surface they are similar, seeing that they both involve the use of technology in the healthcare field, which means they do share some common skillsets and job responsibilities. However, there are also a number of differences between the two areas of study.
The key factor that distinguishes one from the other is that HIM typically focuses on the information technology processes needed to store and retrieve patient data accurately, complying with regulations. HI, on the other hand, focuses more on applied technology by using information management and information technology to improve patient care.
Accreditation is used to ensure academic quality when it comes to higher education. There is accreditation at the institutional level and there is accreditation at the program level. Institutional accreditation allows an institution to provide its students with things like federal financial aid, the ability to transfer credits and the ability to enroll in graduate education. Professional programmatic accreditation is in addition to a college or university’s regional or national accreditation.
Institutions seeking programmatic accreditation for their health information management or health informatics programs look to CAHIIM to evaluate their program of study against set standards. For those studying health information management, program accreditation by CAHIIM is a necessity to be eligible for the AHIMA professional HIM certification exams.
However, CAHIIM is not a necessity when it comes to health informatics programs. Most universities seek out CAHIIM accreditation because they offer both a HIM program and an HI program. In most cases it is because of the school’s HIM program that they went through the accreditation process, and their HI program just happens to fall under that accreditation as well, even though it is not needed.
USF Health Online does not offer HIM programs, which is why they are not CAHIIM accredited. CAHIIM accreditation is not a necessity in any way when it comes to the validity of an HI degree or certificate. It is also not required to be eligible for any kind of certification exam that has to do with HI. Potential employers are also not requiring HI professionals to sit for any kind of certification exam before hiring them.
When it comes to accreditation at the institutional level, the University of South Florida is a regionally accredited university, which is the highest standard for universities in the United States. Institutions that have earned regional accreditation have shown that they are committed to providing their students with the highest quality education possible.