New Health Informatics Credential to Be Created

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Certain healthcare providers can become certified as informatics experts

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) is in the process of establishing a new credentialing program for healthcare providers working in health informatics. The credential, called the advanced health informatics certification (AHIC), will be open to clinicians and informatics professionals who are not boarded physicians, including but not limited to dentists, nutritionists, nurses, osteopathic physicians, computer and information scientists, pharmacists, and radiologists.

According to information provided by AMIA, health informatics professionals “lead the development, implementation, management and evaluation of information and communication systems designed to improve clinical and public health processes and outcomes, enhance patient and health professional interactions with the health system, and strengthen the ability of communities and individuals to manage their health.”1

By establishing this new certification, AMIA is drawing attention to the important role health informatics professionals play in both individual organizations and across the health sector. “The advanced health informatics certification will offer advanced health informatics professionals a way to demonstrate their mastery of knowledge, verify meaningful professional experiences, and highlight their commitment to the profession,” said Cynthia S. Gadd, PhD, MBA, MS, and the executive director of the advanced health informatics certification program.

The credential will also establish a standard of proficiency for advanced health informatics professionals. The decisions that senior health informatics professionals make have a significant impact on the healthcare organizations and patients they serve, and it is vital that those individuals possess the appropriate qualifications, Gadd said.

Rigorous Requirements

The AMIA board of directors recently approved the eligibility requirements for sitting the exam, which is anticipated to be offered within the next two years. President and CEO of AMIA, Douglas B. Fridsma, MD, PhD, FACP, FACMI, announced the requirements at the InSpire 2016 Academic Forum Conference in Columbus, Ohio, on June 29. The requirements and the examination process described in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) will be further developed and implemented by the independent certifying entity that AMIA will establish.1-2

According to a June 29 AMIA press release, the requirements are to be comparable in rigor to the clinical informatics subspecialty initiated by AMIA and offered by the American Board of Medical Subspecialties.3

In order to sit the exam, applicants must have a master’s degree or higher in a primary health profession in addition to a master’s degree or higher in health informatics. A doctoral degree in clinical or health informatics would also meet the requirement. Applicants must also have qualifying health informatics experience in the United States or Canada and at least 18 months of health informatics experience over a three-year period, completed in the past five years.2

Increased Need for Professionals in Health Informatics

As an increasing number of healthcare facilities implement health information systems, the demand for qualified personnel is growing. “The rapid growth of health information systems is driving the need for individuals with the knowledge, skills, and experience to not only develop, implement, and apply these systems effectively, but also to visualize how these systems can help us transform health care,” Gadd explained to ADVANCE. To meet this urgent need for health informatics professionals, AMIA is actively working to strengthen the health informatics workforce.

“With rapid advance in EHR [electronic health record] adoption and health information technology, there is a demand for qualified expertise and an understanding of best practices that goes beyond the skill set for basic health data management,” Fridsma said in the AMIA press release. “AHIC will define the career pathway for health informatics professionals and provide employers with reliable information for hiring, training and promotion.”3

Benefits

How might this advanced certification benefit those who obtain it? According to Gadd, the certification will enable individuals to differentiate themselves from those without comparable knowledge, skills, and experience. It will also provide tangible evidence of expertise to organizations looking to hire individuals with advanced informatics proficiency. “In time, hiring organizations may give preference to individuals with advanced certification,” Gadd said.

Furthermore, not only will the credential provide credibility to those who become certified, it will also provide guidance to individuals who aspire to attain senior positions within health informatics. “AMIA supports the development, advancement, and recognition of health informatics professionals from all disciplines, at all stages of their careers,” said Gadd. “The advanced health informatics certification is one piece of this effort.”

References

  1. Gadd, CS, et al. Creating advanced health informatics certification. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2016; 23(4):848-850. http://jamia.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/848
  2. Gadd, CS, et al. Eligibility requirements for advanced health informatics certification. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2016; 23(4):851-854. http://jamia.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/851
  3. American Medical Informatics Association. AMIA Announces Advanced Health Informatics Certification Eligibility Requirements. https://www.amia.org/news-and-publications/press-release/amia-announces-advanced-health-informatics-certification
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Kirsten Malenke
Kirsten Malenke

Kirsten Malenke is a staff writer at ADVANCE. Contact kmalenke@advanceweb.com.

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