Thursday, January 3, 2008

Do We Know What We're Doing?

One of the business risks that come up time and time again in discussions about eHealth is the supply of people knowledgeable about both IT and health care. It seems that there are lots of one or the other, but few who understand both dimensions of a very complex business. Yet there is little effort being applied to increasing the pool of talent needed to address the demand for skilled human resources.

There are a number of university and college programs across the country (link here for a survey of HI programs across Canada published by the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research (WIHIR), but they graduate relatively few health IT practitioners... certainly not enough to fill the demand.

COACH, Canada's Health Informatics Association, has recently published a list of core competencies needed by Health Informatics Professionals (unfortunately its only available to COACH members), but again, there is no strategy to provide educational opportunities for those who need it.

The Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) has recently implemented a certification program (Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)) that is taking us in the right direction.

The University of Waterloo's Health Informatics Bootcamp program developed and delivered by WIHIR is highly recommended because it addresses a critical need to quickly educate health care and IT professionals on the intricacies of health informatics.

If we are to succeed in driving out eHealth at the pace promoted by politicians and their instruments such as Canada Health Infoway (and other national equivalents), more investment is needed in the educational programs necessary to develop a competent health informatics workforce.


Anonymous said...

There is also UKCHIP (United Kingdom Council of health Informatics Professionals) that is open to anyone. It is a peer review process designed to improve/assess the quality of the workers in the field.

Michael Martineau said...


I think that you have hit the nail on the head ... there is no national strategy. There are many tactical solutions but no coordinated effort to integrate these solutions into an overall strategy.

Part of the difficulty is that education is a provincial responsibility. Hence, a forum is needed that brings together the provincial stakeholders to focus on a common vision. Many years ago I was part of SchoolNet, a very successful national initiative to connect schools and libraries across Canada to the Internet. They too had to tackle the federal vision vs provincial responsibility for education issue.

Michael Martineau
COO, MED2020 Health Care Software