New Clinical Informatics Subspecialty and First Class of Diplomates Signal Pivot in Healthcare Delivery

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Subspecialists to apply innovative informatics solutions within health systems and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration within the field

BETHESDA, MD (December 19) – The first-ever diplomates in the subspecialty of clinical informatics received notice of their board certification in December, a development that will contribute to the major systemic overhaul that is underway in healthcare delivery.

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) spearheaded the new clinical informatics subspecialty, working for more than five years to define and help create the discipline with the goal of advancing the field and the role of informaticians in improving healthcare. The creation of the new subspecialty will help standardize clinical informatics training programs, increase the number of training opportunities available, and provide an immediately recognized credential for organizations hiring informaticians.

"We congratulate the newly certified leaders of the clinical informatics field, as they take their next step toward improving healthcare delivery,” said AMIA Incoming Board of Directors Chair Blackford Middleton, MD, MPH, MSc, FACMI. “These physicians have demonstrated that they understand the design and implementation of informatics systems, and are poised to integrate these solutions into their healthcare delivery organizations."

The new subspecialty and notification of the board certification coincides with the ramp up to iHealth 2014, the only professional meeting devoted to clinical informaticians. The meeting, to be held Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Orlando, Fla., will convene leaders including Lisa Simpson, MB, BCh, FAAP, President and CEO of AcademyHealth, Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, Visiting Fellow at the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution, and Judy Murphy, RN, FACMI, FHIMSS, FAAN, Deputy National Coordinator for Programs and Policy for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Department of Health and Human Services. These and other experts will address pressing topics like HIT governance, patient safety, quality metrics and innovations in population health.

The board exam was administered in October through the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM), and offered to pathologists through the American Board of Pathology (ABP).  The subspecialty was approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in 2011. The 455 new subspecialists were notified of their certification in December.

"Clinical informatics has arrived, and I’m proud to be a part of the pioneer class of leaders in this field,” said William Hersh, MD, FACP, FACMI, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology (DMICE) at Oregon Health & Science University, who both received his board certification this month and directed AMIA’s Clinical Informatics Board Review Course. “When you look at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s (ACGME) definition of the informatics discipline, the operative word is ‘transform.’  Every day, informaticians are working in their healthcare settings to change how we do things, to improve patient care and population health."

The board certification is open to physicians of all specialties, encouraging interdisciplinary cooperation in the clinical informatics field. Physicians can currently become eligible for the exam by demonstrating practical informatics experience. However, after five years, candidates for the subspecialty will need to complete an accredited clinical informatics fellowship with the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME).

"What makes this subspecialty interesting is that any primary specialty diplomate can apply to become board certified in clinical informatics,” Dr. Middleton said. “It is illustrative of the ubiquitous need across our entire healthcare delivery system to engage with professionals who understand how to improve the value of care with informatics."

Experts in the field point to the subspecialty as a critical avenue to optimizing care, reducing errors, and rooting practice in evidence. These issues will be explored by leaders in the clinical informatics field at the upcoming iHealth conference.

For the complete list of new clinical informatics subspecialists, please visit AMIA’s website. For more information about the board certification, please visit the ABPM website.

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About AMIA
AMIA, the leading professional association for informatics professionals, serves as the voice of the nation’s top biomedical and health informatics professionals and plays an important role in medicine, health care, and science, encouraging the use of data, information and knowledge to improve both human health and delivery of healthcare services. More about AMIA is online at www.amia.org.