Health informatics may not be a term you’re familiar with – but if you’ve visited a hospital or clinic lately you have likely seen it in action. People like Rose Harrison are using information technology to better manage the health care you receive.
Rose leads a consulting firm that is working with hospitals across Canada to implement electronic patient records in order to improve patient care. They work closely with clinicians who define each step in the patient care process, and then develop systems that enable them to monitor care.
Every step, from checking a patient into the hospital to post-operative care, is carefully tracked. Alerts and reminders can also be set to provide information when it’s needed (e.g., a prompt to order antibiotics before surgery in order to prevent infection). It’s a dynamic process that provides real-time reports that demonstrate whether these computerized interventions are improving patient care.
The demand for individuals with Rose’s expertise has never been higher. As she explains, “our skills are unique in that we understand what clinicians require the system to do and we also understand how these systems can be designed to assist them in providing safer patient care.” But the search for talent often comes up empty, and Rose believes the lack of qualified personnel is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry, particularly as investments in e-health initiatives continue to climb.
That’s where the Health Informatics Specialization within the Health Studies program plays an important role. This Option provides students with an understanding of human health, and the know-how to utilise information technology to better manage patient care and the delivery of services. It’s an exciting path with unlimited potential – and it’s a path that could be yours.
I believe the number one challenge facing our industry is qualified talent.