Health Informatics and Information Management faculty attend summit in Washington, D.C.

Health Informatics and Information Management faculty attend summit in Washington, D.C.

West Virginia University School of Medicine Health Informatics and Information Management faculty members participated in the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., in March.

Ashley Simmons, MBA, and Megan McDougal, M.S., attended the summit as representatives of the West Virginia Health Information Management Association (WVHIMA), which is the state component organization of the national AHIMA organization. Simmons is the president-elect of WVHIMA and McDougal is the vice president.

“Participation in the AHIMA Advocacy Summit not only enables us, as HIIM leaders, to advocate on matters vital to the profession and patient care in general, but also allows us to develop and maintain relationships with our senators and representatives to serve as a resource and subject matter expert as needed,” Simmons said.


During the event, participants heard from leaders in the field who discussed pressing issues that will shape the future direction of the health informatics and information management profession. The summit featured panel discussions with representatives from the Canadian Health Information Management Association, providing valuable insights into health care strategies from Canada and the United States, as well as a presentation from Melanie Fontes Rainer, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

During their time in Washington, D.C., Simmons and McDougal also met with West Virginia congress members on Capitol Hill to discuss the impact of artificial intelligence on the non-clinical workforce as well as the MATCH IT Act of 2024, which would address patient misidentification within the health care ecosystem while improving patient safety and privacy.

Simmons and McDougal hope to bring what they learned at the summit back to the classroom.

“Much of the discussion at the summit revolved around the MATCH IT act and its impact on improving patient identification and safety, as well as the implications of nonclinical AI and its use in health care,” McDougal said. “As HIIM professors, it's important to share these experiences with our students for them to understand how health information is used as a catalyst in transformative health care. Real-world examples, such as this one, help us to equip future professionals with the knowledge and skillsets necessary to navigate the ever-changing health care landscape.”

The WVU HIIM program, which is a unique combination of business, healthcare and information technology, is the only baccalaureate degree of its kind in West Virginia.

For more information about the Health Informatics and Information Management program at WVU, visit