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Linda Best: my new life as a HIM in Geneva.

If a few years ago someone had told me that I would be living and working overseas at this late stage of my life I would have thought 'Wow! How great would that be, but totally improbable'. I have now learnt that one never knows what is around the corner and opportunities can come up when you least expect them.

My husband was offered a job in Geneva, Switzerland in 2007. After lots of family discussions we took the plunge, packed up our Sydney life, left our children and ran away to Switzerland. After having worked in the health information management field for over 25 years in areas of management, coder education and clinical classification, I had great ideas of becoming a lady of leisure, fulfilling my passion for travel and generally enjoy all that Europe has to offer. However I did not count on the power of the grapevine.

I had been in Geneva for nearly six months when I was approached to do a consultancy in Ankara, Turkey. My name had been passed on to the people who were involved in introducing coding (ICD-10AM) and DRGs into the Turkish health system. They needed some guidance in preparing and presenting a coding workshop for their newly trained coders. They had been told that I was residing in Geneva and that I had experience with coder education through the National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) in Sydney, the School of Health Information Management at Sydney University and the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) distance education program at Ryde. I spent a total of eight days in Turkey assisting the 'training team' in the preparation and then the presentation of their Advanced Coding Workshop. It was very successful, with both coders and trainers gaining confidence and knowledge in their new roles. For me it was great to work with a new group of people as well as being able to take the opportunity to see a different country. Being a true Australian I took a weekend off and with my husband and mother made the pilgrimage to Gallipoli and ANZAC Cove. A very moving experience that none of us will forget.

I returned to Geneva planning what leisure activities I could start and where to travel to next. As an avid snow skier I was really looking forward to winter and frequenting as many of the ski areas around where I am living. Everything is so close. The hard decision I need to make each time is do we ski the Swiss, French or Italian ski areas?

However, the grapevine had been running hot again and I was contacted by the Irish. In 2005 Ireland adopted ICD-10-AM Fourth Edition for coding in all Irish hospitals. At that time, Megan Cumerlato and I went to Ireland on behalf of the NCCH to train 200 Irish coders. The ESRI coding unit had heard that I was now living in Geneva and once again I was approached to consult on coder education and training for new coders. Over the last two years I have travelled to Dublin several times to assist in various education workshops as well as consulting on coding issues from my home here in Geneva. Of course I have also taken the opportunity to travel around Ireland and Northern Ireland seeing some amazing sights.

Geneva is famous for the number of international organisations that are based here. In fact almost 40% of the population of Geneva is made up of 'expats', many of whom work for these organisations. The World Health Organization (WHO) - the producer of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) - is one of the organisations based in Geneva. With over 10 years experience in classification, together with my background in coder education, I guess it was inevi table that I would finish up being asked to assist at the WHO when it began the production of ICD-11.

My first project was assisting in the creation of the new electronic WHO ICD-10 training tool that may be used both online and standalone. It will be available for ICD-10 training internationally and is ideal for training coders in remote areas.

I am now working with the ICD-11 production team, a scary situation for someone who at one time thought they would retire from coding when ICD-10 started. It is however a very interesting and exciting time for the ICD and a fantastic opportunity for me professionally to be able to contribute my coding and classification knowledge to this new revision.

My life here in Switzerland, from both professional and personal perspectives, has been full of wonderful opportunities and experiences. At this time I do not know what the future will hold but I am ready to embrace whatever is on offer.

Linda Best AssocDip(MRA)

Consultant Health Information Manager



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Title Annotation:Professional profiles; health information manager
Author:Best, Linda
Publication:Health Information Management Journal
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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