The Global Health Informatics Community

AMIA is eager to work with its partners to help health providers, informaticians,  and information consumers at all levels to leverage information and communication technologies to achieve better health for all.

Vision

Creating innovative collaborations for transforming information into better health for all.

Mission

To support healthcare systems worldwide in using information for improving the quality, safety, and effectiveness of the services they provide.

Goals

  • Work with our partners to create an international collaborative learning community focused on the use of health care information to improve healthcare delivery world wide
  • Cultivate networks of health informatics advocates to foster further understanding of the benefits, policy implications, and resources available to health systems
  • Through its learning community, develop tools and best practices for providing the education, training, and skills to health providers and information consumers at all levels for leveraging information and communication technologies

Core Principles

  • Best practices and effective tools can arise from anywhere and should be made universally accessible
  • Our community respects and welcomes diverse values, beliefs, and cultures
  • Challenges are universal; solutions must be locally relevant and locally owned
  • Innovation is driven by examining problems from new perspectives

Context

As the focus of health care worldwide shifts from dealing with acute problems to chronic disease management and the need for effective prevention of communicable diseases, the frequency and complexity of care required at all levels has increased dramatically. In addition, health care is becoming more and more community-based and the lines between formal and informal health care services blurred. These changes are straining the ability of healthcare systems to provide adequate, high quality services. Perhaps the most serious challenge is the lack of adequate human capacity, particularly in low-resource countries. This lack of capacity is felt on many levels. In most low-resource countries, and increasingly in better resourced countries as well, there are simply not enough qualified health professionals to provide services adequately to those who need them. In order to address this scarcity, countries are adapting a two pronged strategy of increasing pre-service training programs for doctors, nurses, and other health professional while at the same time developing or expanding the number and types of ancillary health personnel, such as community health workers. The goal is to be able to provide care management closer to the community and to make better use of specialized expertise. Two significant challenges need to be faced. First, in order to increase dramatically the number of health professionals available, the number trained must be increased. This requires training resources beyond what most countries can currently provide both in terms of infrastructure and, more importantly, in trained teachers. A second challenge is how to effectively integrate services being delivered by ancillary personnel in peripheral health settings within the formal healthcare system. Modern information management and communication approaches and technologies can offer significant improvements in resolving these capacity issues.

Health informatics landscape

Health care providers at all levels are increasingly expected to use information and communication technologies (ICT) such as electronic health records, telemedicine applications, and online public health registries, as a routine part of providing care. Greater use of health informatics concepts and applications will enhance communication between and among providers and their patients to improve the quality and effectiveness of care while, at the same time, providing care managers and policy makers with the timely, detailed data necessary to manage care effectively and efficiently at the local, regional, and national levels. These technologies can also help health care systems extend their ability to provide services to patients in under-served areas. Yet effective use of these tools depends, in large measure on a health workforce that has basic information management skills and the development of a cadre of information management specialists to support them. A culture of collaboration and trust must be established; and tools must be implemented to harness the collective knowledge and experience and to stimulate innovation.

Who we are

AMIA's global health program (GHIP) and its international partners have formed a nascent learning community to support institutional stakeholders as well as a broad range of interested professionals. Initial institutional partners, including the Health Metrics Network administered by WHO, the International Medical Informatics Association, OER Africa, Intrahealth, and Open Health Tools, bring global expertise in health information systems and tools, education, and capacity building. In addition, individual participants represent leading experts in health informatics from across the globe.  Together we seek to develop a staff that can provide the necessary administrative and operational support for maintaining a robust collaborative ecosystem for the learning community and its various communities of practice.

To strengthen health informatics capacities, the community aims to assist in developing toolkits and resource materials, and to support information sharing about programs and initiatives at local and regional levels. The vision moves beyond training at individual sites to the development of an integrated network of dedicated partner institutions. Collaborators are expected to mentor newer partners and to share information through talks, workshops, published literature, training tools, and other mechanisms to create and sustain momentum for widespread use of information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance the quality, safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of care. Much of our work will be carried out through a system of linked, regional portals, using an on-line collaborative model that includes governments, organizations, individuals, advocates and those interested in health informatics-related information, tools, resources, and discussions. Early knowledge transfer activities for the community cover four broad areas:

  • Acting as a health informatics information resource center;
  • Coordinating and developing health informatics training and workshops, including on-line, blended, and in-person;
  • Providing access to health informatics experts and human resources; and
  • Supporting a collaborative ecosystem for initiatives that are focused on participants developing solutions to problems in real-world settings, ideally their own, guided by established informatics principles.

We are accordingly embracing a Community of Practice (CoP) model that has been shown to be effective across many different disciplines and has the potential to accelerate learning, to speed innovation, and to support organizational learning and change while reducing costs and building trusted relationships. CoPs are characterized by groups of individuals who share similar interests and challenges, interact regularly, and learn from and with each other. A successful CoP requires the right combination of purpose, people, content, organization, and impact. CoP outputs vary, but generally consist of unified strategies and approaches, best practices, tools, training, and sharing of lessons learned. It is anticipated that a variety of CoPs will emerge through the learning community we describe here, addressing various regional or local health informatics-related challenges. A managed collaborative environment is critical to developing and sustaining successful CoPs. GHIP and its partners seek to raise and commit the resources necessary to provide the environment and resources to support the CoPs so that they can more effectively share practical field experiences and knowledge, leverage external knowledge and expertise, and develop and share best practices. Having international subject-matter specialists in the health informatics coordinate and facilitate content development and interactions, maintain the quality of content, and keep members informed by flagging current issues and upcoming events will enhance the effectiveness and the success of the effort.

Summary

Healthcare transformation can be achieved only by working within a collaborative, forward-thinking mindset, addressing problems as a global community and connecting effectively with the local settings where solutions are implemented. This focus on local adaptability and ownership is fundamental to adoption and sustainability. By creating a global vision, we can bring together this community and harness its knowledge and experiences to address shared challenges and foster innovation.