RIM / IG world, meet Seth.

If you’re active in the AHIMA community, you may already be familiar with some of the great work he does for records and information managers in healthcare, but did you know he has another full time job…? Being the Dad of two young boys.

We sat down with Seth for a 1 on 1 chat, to learn more about one of the true leaders in the IG field.

Access: Hi Seth, great speaking with you again. So, how did you get started in records management?

Seth: I started early. I received a bachelor’s degree in HIM (health information management) from the University of Kansas and wanted to work on the tech side of things. I started at Cerner, working on a team that was developing their technology around workflows on a palm pilot, (you know, PDA’s?).

While I enjoyed the role, I always wanted to be more forward facing with patients, so I applied for an operations role at Truman Medical Centers. I started like most…in the file room. I eventually worked my way up; Got into HIM operations, became the HIM Regulatory manager, took over Coding, Corporate director of HIM , and eventually became the Associate Chief Information Officer.

[Ed. note.] Did we mention Seth achieved his Masters in public health and joined the AHIMA board along the way?

What are you most proud of with your current role?
Seeing the direct impact our work has on patients. The ability to treat patients, who cannot afford their care, with world-class technologies. It is a priceless feeling.

What would you consider a marquee achievement in your career?
It would [have to] be developing our external referral program. We put a team together dedicated to solving this large problem for the organization. It took more than a year, but with a new process and solution in place, we saw a 46% increase in referrals recieved and a 65% decrease in scheduling delays!

Another achievement was our successful implementation of ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases). That project took more than 6 years from kick-off to go-live and impacted the entire organization. Things went so smoothly on our conversion date that we closed our war room – originally set to run 24/7 for two weeks – after only a day and a half.

Those are impressive accomplishments, and go well beyond the traditional HIM / RIM roles to directly impact your patients and your business in highly meaningful ways. That’s really cool.

Are there other examples that made a big difference for your patients?

I’d say the growth of the Patient Portal… back in 2012 there were many disbelievers in the technology, but now so many patients rely on the portal to access their unique patient information providing high-end service. We have over 31,000 patients enrolled in our portal, something that, given the socioeconomic background of many of our patients, many thought would never happen. I believe it demonstrates that everyone cares about their health and wants that control over their information.

I love that example. Not only because of the difference made in your patients’ experiences but also for the strong connection to HIM. I’m sure the portal was built to be highly secure, ensure patient privacy, and ties into the transformation to electronic records. You mentioned internal efficiencies [offline] as well, with less staff needed to find and provision records in response to patient requests.

How did your career / role expand into information governance in the first place?
Many hospitals see HIM as expendable because they used to see them as ‘paper pushers’ and since most documents are digital now, the question comes up, often – “What purpose do they serve?” I found that to be a silly question, because they still manage the process end-to-end, digital or paper shouldn’t really matter.

I found that my peers needed to be more aggressive, outgoing, and put a stake in the ground in demonstrating what HIM is, and can be, in that electronic world. For us, in many ways, going electronic really helped our Information Governance as it made it easy to centralize all of our document and retention efforts under one group. More controls, more security, more reliability. IG is a natural extension of HIM, but that’s no obvious to everyone, so I wrote a memo for a case study to C-level executives all about strategic planning and the need for IG at Truman. They agreed and a committee was formed that reports up through HIM.

[Ed. Note]: The HIM group now handles ALL document and retention schedules for 16+ departments.)

In your mind, what do you think the difference is between RIM & IG?
RIM is about the document lifecycle, indexing, retention schedules. RIM is still a part of IG, but IG is more about data, aggregating information out, and the ability to be consistent, available and timely throughout the organization.

Sounds like a great opportunity to drive additional insights, utility and value for the business, which can be a challenge for many RIM/HIMs.

What [would you say] is your biggest RIM / IG challenge?
Getting over the hump that HIM is ‘just paper pushers’. There is still some misconception that now that most paper records are gone, what is our value? I rely on strategic planning and being forward-thinking, which has helped our department become leaders in our space.

Additionally, it can be a challenge to get your arms around all your disparate systems and understanding who holds what data. To have good governance, you need to know where you data is. Mapping out detailed workflows for how all your systems and databases work together is time consuming, but worthwhile in the end.

What advice would you give to someone interested in the field?
Think non-traditional – there is a real need for HIM skillsets, big companies are trying to get into healthcare but do not have regulatory (HIPPA, PII, etc.) experience and perspective.

What about more experienced peers who are looking for ways to add value or elevate their program?
It’s time to adapt. Strategically plan every year. You cannot rest on ‘what got me here will keep me here’. Confidently think ahead. [ask yourself] What should you do with your staff? What are the next steps in evolution? Be proactive and confident. Develop soft skills and continue your education. Take that leap to grow and a personal ownership in your development, financially and personally.

Okay, now for the fun stuff. Any hobbies in your free time?
I have 2 kids (4 and 18 months) so a lot of time of time is spent with them. I do enjoy playing the guitar and basketball.

Favorite place you’ve ever traveled?
Vegas. I go a couple times a year.

[Ed. Note] …We won’t ask what happens there

Favorite Book?
IT, Steven King. I’ve actually written a book, as well. A Tale of Two Worlds. It’s a fun adventure book. You can find it on Amazon.

Seth, we greatly appreciate your time and I hope the readers have enjoyed learning about you and your background as much as we have.


To learn more about how Truman leveraged the partnership with Access, you can read their full case study here.


About Seth Katz, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA
Seth Jeremy Katz is the Associate Chief Information Officer at Truman Medical Centers and a frequent speaker at industry events. During more than twelve years at Truman, Seth has held a number of roles supporting the departments of Health Information Management, the Project Management Office, IT Training and Nursing Informatics. He also works on a variety of strategic projects such as referral management and patient engagement, with a current focus on building up Truman’s Innovation Center and their telehealth presence. Outside of Truman, Seth is a member of the AHIMA Board of Directors and is a consulting faculty member for the University of Kansas Medical Center.

About Truman Medical Centers
With two, acute care academic hospital locations, a behavioral health program, a long-term care facility and multiple primary care practices, Truman Medical Centers (TMC) offers the largest inpatient and outpatient care for Kansas City hospitals. Steeped in Kansas City history, with roots that go back more than a century, Truman Medical Centers is an academic health center providing accessible, state-of-the-art quality healthcare to the community regardless of the ability to pay.