Ask an expert: June Bronnert, VP of Global Clinical Services at IMO

Get to know health information professional June Bronnert and learn why coding is a critical part of achieving data quality in healthcare.
Data quality in healthcare

If you’ve ever attended an IMO webinar highlighting the updates to a standardized code set, you’ve probably seen June Bronnert as a speaker.

With decades of experience in the healthcare space – and so many credentials after her name that they could used for a round of Scrabble – we had to sit down with this expert and see what we could learn.

From her professional path before IMO, to how she helps improve data quality in healthcare, to what advice she would give young health informatics professionals, this expert had plenty to share.

IMO: How long have you been at IMO, and what is your current role? 

June Bronnert: I have been working at IMO for almost 11 years! I was first hired as the Director of Mapping. After doing that job for many years I transitioned to what is now our Global Clinical Services team, where I’m currently the Vice President. This role allows me to ensure our customers get the full value from our IMO solutions.

IMO: Eleven years is a long time! You’ve seen so many seasons of IMO. And like many of our subject matter experts, you have a lot of letters after your name – MHI, RHIA, CCS, and CCS-P. Can you explain what each of your credentials represent?

JB: The first one, MHI, stands for my Master in Health Informatics degree.

My bachelor’s degree was in Health Information Management. After completing this bachelor’s program, you can take a credentialing test through the American Health Information Management Association, or AHIMA. So, that’s where my second credential, RHIA, – which stands for Registered Health Information Administrator – comes from. 

People with RHIA credentials have a variety of backgrounds. For example, in my professional realm some folks may choose to focus more on privacy and security when it comes to health information, while others concentrate on code sets. My Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Specialist Professional (CCS-P) credentials signify that I’m focused on the code sets and what they stand for. These certifications allow me to work with and understand the differences between what hospitals report and the rules they follow compared with the physician and ambulatory side.

IMO: So those credentials allow you to work on both sides of the coding coin. What was your path like to IMO?

JB: Before I started my professional journey to IMO, I worked for various hospitals. That ranged from reviewing medical records, to assigning the codes, to managing coding departments, to being a director of medical record departments at facilities.

From there, I worked for the Veterans Administration (VA). Because they were nationwide, they also had a coding council at the time. By participating in that I got to meet a lot of great people. But eventually I needed to make some changes, which led me to start working for AHIMA.

My time with that organization spanned seven years. Through their support of nationwide members, I connected with so many great people – including those close to the founders of IMO. Hearing about the work of IMO that way, and while the industry was continuing to transition to electronic health records (EHRs), gave me a broader perspective.

I’ve always found myself drawn to the coding side of health information management and how data was – and still is – evolving from that transition. All those different elements led me to IMO.

IMO: What does a typical workday look like for you?

JB: There’s a lot of variety in my day, which I enjoy. We have internal meetings to discuss where the organization is at with different projects and products. We’re also listening to our customers to determine how we can resolve their specific challenges and ensure they’re leveraging all the value of IMO, which is an important part of my day. We obtain status updates on any issues and make sure we see those through to the resolution. That’s a typical day.

IMO: How do you support IMO’s efforts to improve data quality in healthcare?

JB: Data, quality, and data quality have always been topics I’ve been very interested in – even before joining IMO. I firmly believe you’ll make the wrong choices if you have incorrect data.

Customers send us their data to normalize against our content and ensure standardized codes are accurately mapped. We give them back more complete, consistent, and accurate data to support their use cases.

IMO: Your role is central to coding. How does it fit into the larger IMO picture? 

JB: Coding can mean many different things to people. But to me, it’s crucial to understand that the codes we work with – whether it’s LOINC®, SNOMED-CT®, ICD-10-CM, or CPT® – are not just about reimbursement.

Certainly, reimbursement is one element that the codes impact in the United States, but there’s so much more.

Consider statistical and clinical research data. If a person has a certain disease and there is a successful treatment, codes within their records must be accurate so that those patients can be identified and helped.

IMO: What do you wish more people understood about your role?

JB: My role is a resource, both internally and externally. In school, I had to learn about all the elements that make up clinical documentation and why each held importance. I want others to understand it’s more than what code gets assigned and what makes it onto the claim form. It’s the entire information record that’s important.

IMO: Over your career, you’ve seen many advancements in your field, like the transition from paper records to EHRs. Do you anticipate any upcoming changes or any new areas of focus?

JB: I think one element that will be interesting is the auto-generation of documentation – how technology is used to help facilitate this without being overly prescriptive.

In our profession, we want to make coding manageable for providers so that they can document efficiently. But we also have to watch that balance. Things can’t be so auto-generated that providers really aren’t documenting what’s going on. The industry will take on the challenge of achieving that balance, and I’m sure they’ll come to some good resolutions. I’m interested in how we will get the best out of our technology.

IMO: Do you have any advice for people working towards a similar career path as you?

JB: The one thing I always say is to volunteer.

You don’t have to be an expert to volunteer and learn. You will find out so many fascinating things. And even if you are not entirely comfortable – like you don’t feel like you’re the expert – don’t let that stop you. Plus, I always feel like I get more from volunteering than I ever give.

IMO: Are there any specific volunteer experiences that made an impact on you?

JB: In Ohio, where I live, we had a data quality and reimbursement council within our professional organization. I’ve made a lot of great contacts through that. We would come together and plan various coding topics. We would talk about different coding issues that folks were facing in the state (and sometimes nationally). I’ve kept in touch with many of the people I met through that council over the years, including one person who eventually was hired at IMO.

IMO: How did you find those types of volunteer opportunities? Was there a specific search you did, or was it through word of mouth?

JB: A little bit of both. I recommend starting locally because that can lead to state and national opportunities. Professional associations like AHIMA and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) are typically looking for various volunteers. Just put yourself out there.

Want to learn more about standardized code sets like CPT®, LOINC®, SNOMED®, ICD-10-CM? Check out our guide, Cracking the codes: A guide to healthcare’s standardized coding systems.

CPT is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association. All rights reserved.

SNOMED and SNOMED CT are registered trademarks of SNOMED International.

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