A Social Network and MOOC for Health Informatics Professionals and Students
One the overriding themes of the HIMSS conference was the lack of qualified health informatics personnel to cope with the recent increase in demand from new health informatics projects.
Now Price Waterhouse Coopers are reporting some results of a survey of healthcare organisations due to be published later this month. According to the press release, the survey found that:
So, where are these qualified and experienced personnel going to come from? Unfortunately, the experience part can't be rushed. People are going to get their experience as they work. What can be done, and is underway, is to increase the funding (provided by the HITECH stimulus package) for undergraduate and certificate courses in health informatics. We have a list of these courses in our Health Informatics Degrees and Certificates resource collection (and we're constantly adding to it as new courses come online).
In my view, however, the main source of new health informatics personel will be from the existing nursing workforce. Whether they continue as practicing nurses, or shift gears into a full-time health informatics role, nurses will be the key to getting new EHR projects off the ground successfully. The health informatics research shows again and again that clinical buy-in is the key factor in successful implementations. Nurses have the skills to ensure that the systems align with clinical needs and can effectively communicate this with the clinical staff in the hospital.
Medical and nursing education programmes now need to focus on ensuring that health informatics is a key aspect of their training - with the knowledge that a large proportion of the nursing workforce (and a smaller proportion of the medical workforce) will end up with key health informatics roles.
We've had lots of discussion on the Health Informatics Forum about how nurses can transition into clinical informatics roles including discussions ranging from what the average nursing informatics salary really is to whether or not nurses should go for certificate or masters health informatics degrees.
Judging from the quantity and variety of questions posted, there is a real need for more education about health informatics career options. Hopefully we can help provide some answers on our forum, but the nursing and medical professional organisations need to continue to take health informatics seriously if they are going to serve their members and help the healthcare system transition into the digital age.
The initiative to create a new Board Certified Specialty in Clinical Informatics is a positive move from the medical profession. AMIA played a key role in the creation of this specialty and should be applauded for their efforts. However, Health Informatics needs to be a multi-disciplinary specialty (as AMIA has become a multi-disciplinary organisation) and clinical qualifications should be available to all clinicians including nurses, pharmacists and other allied health professionals.
What do you see as being the main barriers to creating a high quality health informatics workforce? Is the funding going to the right places? Do nurses and doctors have the skills needed to implement health informatics projects?