AHIMA Milestones of the Last 90 Years
IN 1912, FIVE women serving as medical record clerks in Boston, MA-area hospitals, including AHIMA Founder Grace
Whiting Myers, met at Massachusetts General Hospital to study clinical records; they called themselves the Club of
The Association of Record Librarians of North America (ARLNA) is founded in 1928; Myers is elected as president.
Certification starts up at AHIMA in 1933, with the establishment of the Registered Record Librarian (RRL) credential.
In 1939, AHIMA—then known as the Association of Medical Record Librarians—first issued credentials for registration
for nine schools.
In 1944, the Association of Medical Record Librarians renamed itself the American Association of Medical Record Librarians. In 1960 association membership reaches nearly 4,500.
In 1962, the association offered correspondence courses for medical record staff in the pre-internet era. The Foundation of Record Education (FORE), now known as the AHIMA Foundation, was also incorporated in 1962.
The association experienced its third name change in 1970, switching from the American Association of Medical Record
Librarians to the American Medical Record Association (AMRA).
In 1975, continuing education requirements were first established for Registered Record Administrators (RRAs) and
Accredited Record Technicians (ARTs).
In 1978, membership surpasses 23,000.
To more effectively interact with the federal government and advocate for their members, AHIMA established its Washington, DC office in 1989.
AHIMA changed the names of its RRA and ART credentials in 1999, switching to the more descriptive Registered Health
Information Administrator (RHIA) and Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).
In 2003, AHIMA celebrates its 75th anniversary.
In 2012, AHIMA membership reaches 65,097 members.
In 2018, AHIMA membership reaches 79,767.
Skurka says, adding that Rita Finnegan, another former
board chair and CEO of AHIMA, instilled this sense of vol-
unteerism through her leadership. “She said it’s not an op-
tion, it’s an obligation.”
Skurka says AHIMA’s profile has risen in part due to its in-
creased presence and influence in health policy through its of-
fice in Washington, DC—which opened in 1989. She attributes
this growth to the leadership of AHIMA member Linda Kloss,
RHIA, FAHIMA, who served as AHIMA’s CEO from 1995-2010,
and as AHIMA’s board chair and president in 1984-85.
The Future of AHIMA
Kloss’s tenure at AHIMA came during a time of rapid
change in health IT and HIM, including the implementation of HIPAA and the beginning of a period that saw
healthcare providers rapidly adopt EHRs and participate
in health information exchanges. Although she has retired from AHIMA leadership roles, she is still a member,
first joining in 1968. Kloss continues to serve on the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, an advisory committee to the Secretary of the US Department of
Health and Human Services. This helps ensure that the
field of HIM has a voice at the highest levels of government
and policymaking. She also serves as a consultant, advising providers and senior healthcare leaders on information governance.
Kloss says that when she first began working in HIM, the
profession offered a set career path with well-understood stan-
dards of practice across the profession. Many who went into
the profession aimed toward becoming a HIM director within
a traditional HIM department. But technology has accelerated
the rate of change in the industry, she says, which now offers a
much more diverse path forward in a variety of HIM roles and
Reynolds, from the University of Tennessee, notes that for
many years HIM professionals have been planning for the era
of “HIM without walls.” Now that era has arrived and HIM professionals have been dispersed even more widely to all corners
of healthcare. Their primary mission, however, has stayed the
same—maintain data integrity. This is evident, Reynolds says,
from the types of jobs new HIM graduates are finding. “We’re
seeing a greater demand for graduates that have those data
analytics skills,” Reynolds says.
Over the last several years AHIMA has been working on
a strategy to help HIM professionals and educators better
prepare for a future in which reimbursement is driven by
quality and decisions are made on longitudinal data. The
result of this work is “HIM Reimagined,” a framework for
advancing the profession through an emphasis on higher
education levels, curriculum changes that include a focus on data analytics and informatics, and specialization
Kloss says she is confident that HIM professionals of the future will need to be fluent in the language of data and informa-