Newly Formed Health Informatics Partnership Is Working to Expand Informatics Work Force, Improve Health Globally

Monday, November 15, 2010

Washington, DC—In only its sixth month of operations, the Global Health Informatics Partnership (GHIP) has actively gained the support and participation of numerous international health-related organizations as it seeds and grows a collaborative learning community focused on the creation of a collaborative network and clearinghouse of information for global health informatics. At its international debut among regional and world health organizations in South Africa two months ago, GHIP rolled out prototypes of health informatics building blocks—HIBBs—to be used as training modules for health workers in clinical settings in low-resource countries. With operational support from AMIA, the association of informatics professionals, GHIP aims to build a grassroots network of health informatics advocates and professionals that will result in strengthened health informatics capacity in South America, Africa, and Asia. Health informatics is the science of using data, information, and knowledge to improve both human health and delivery of healthcare services.

“GHIP is actively engaging partners for e-learning and tools production,” says GHIP Executive Director Robert Mayes. “ For example,” he notes, “ working with informatics leaders in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile recently, cutting-edge informatics training materials used in their countries to raise the standard of healthcare delivery and improve overall health nationally, are being adapted for use in Africa and Asia.  These leaders recognize that GHIP provides a mechanism to help leverage informatics knowledge and expertise globally.”“ Mayes formerly served as a senior advisor on health information technology at the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Health Information Technology Program, responsible for the development and implementation of research on health IT and its role in improving quality and safety.

GHIP has begun catalyzing collaborative relationships among national health ministers and world health institutions, a top-tier group expected in turn to mentor newer partners and share information that leads to enhanced quality, safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of health care. All GHIP activities conform to open standards, open content, and open-access principles and practices, guided by established informatics principles. “There’s a new paradigm for health informatics in public and global health,” says AMIA President & CEO Edward H. Shortliffe, MD. “GHIP fills a need expressed by many international health organizations for a partner forum, platform, or program in which to share experiential knowledge and best practices. GHIP enables local and regional communities of practice to leverage their experience to benefit patients and the healthcare work force in low-resource settings.”

GHIP Board Chair John Holmes notes that moving medical knowledge from research to practice remains a huge challenge. “Innovative methods of accessing and transferring knowledge are being sought by many global healthcare coalitions,” he observes. “Rethinking how health care is delivered and how healthcare institutions can foster better health through the science and practice of informatics, and the development and use of information and communications technology are topics being examined at the highest levels of the healthcare sector, both in private and public institutions.”

GHIP is involved with global health leaders, including Health Metrics Network, a partnership hosted by the World Health Organization; the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA); IntraHealth International; Millennium Villages Project, Earth Institute, Columbia University; Regenstrief Institute, Inc. (at Indiana University School of Medicine); OER Africa (an initiative of South Africa Institute for Distance Education); Hospital Italiano, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Universidad Central, Santiago, Chile; SUIS and SUEIIDISS, Montevideo, Uruguay (National informatics and standards organizations); and OpenMRS.

“Much of GHIP’s work will be carried out through its portal, www.ghip.net,” explains Mayes.  “GHIP’s knowledge-transfer activities underpin its multiple roles as a health informatics information resource center, a coordinator and developer of health informatics training media, a facilitator in accessing health informatics experts and human resources, as well as a collaborative ecosystem that focuses on problem-solving in real-world healthcare and health delivery settings.”

GHIP is governed by a Board of Directors:

  • John H. Holmes* (Chair), PhD, Associate Professor of Medical Informatics in Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  • Dominik Aronsky*, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics & Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt University
  • Antoine Geissbuhler, MD,  Professor of Medical Informatics, Chairman of the Department of Radiology and Medical Informatics at Geneva University, Director of the Division of Medical Informatics at Geneva University Hospitals, and President of Health-On-the-Net Foundation
  • Rita Kukafka*, DrPH, MPH, MA, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University
  • Gilad Kuperman*, MD, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University.  Also Director for Interoperability Informatics at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the Board Chair and Executive Director of NYCLIX, Inc., a RHIO in New York City
  • Heimar de Fatima Marin, RN, MS, PhD, Professor of Health Informatics at Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP).  Also a Brazilian-trained nurse with a post doctoral fellowship in Clinical Informatics at Harvard Medical School
  • Chris Seebregts, PhD, Senior Manager in Biomedical Informatics Research at the South African Medical Research Council, an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Executive Director of Jembi Health Systems, a South African NGO developing and implementing eHealth and health information systems in Africa
  • Edward H. Shortliffe, MD, PhD, AMIA (ex-officio)
  • Robert Mayes, RN, GHIP (ex-officio)

*Also a member of the AMIA Board of Directors

AMIA, the leading professional association of informatics professionals, is an important player in medicine, health care, and science, and serves as the voice of the nation’s top biomedical and health informatics professionals. It is a trusted source of unbiased information and the center of action for thousands of health care professionals, informatics researchers, and thought-leaders who advance ideas, policy objectives, and education related to biomedical and health informatics.