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Regenstrief investigator named first chief editor of exam to prepare clinical informaticians

Regenstrief Institute investigator John T. Finnell, M.D., M.S., associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of health informatics at the IU School of Informatics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has been named the first chief editor of the Clinical Informatics Practice Board Examination.

The practice board examination will help prepare physicians to take the initial American Board of Medical Specialties examination required for certification as subspecialists in clinical informatics.  The Clinical Informatics Subspecialty Certification Exam Preparation Program is being developed by The American Medical Informatics Association.

Clinical informatics is the interdisciplinary field merging medicine and computer science that focuses on the secure collection, organization and application of patient data to improve health and the delivery of health care to individuals and populations. This is the first time a subspecialty certification will be applicable to physicians from all 24 medical specialties.

Board certification guarantees that a doctor has met basic competency. Included within these criteria are a number of years of training, accreditation of training programs, licensing and sub-specialty certifications.

“Patients expect their physicians to have passed these requirements in order to deliver quality health care,” said Dr. Finnell, who is a graduate of a National Library of Medicine-funded informatics fellowship program at the Regenstrief Institute. “Hospitals and health care systems will expect their medical information officers to have met these standards as well. The practice exam will allow physicians to prepare for the first and subsequent certification exams.”

Clinical informatics was designed as a new physician medical subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties in 2011, and the first examination in the field will be administered in fall 2013. The practice exam, to be available in early 2013, will be composed of about 200 multiple-choice questions.

For nearly half a century, Regenstrief physician clinical informaticians have been recognized for their use of data to improve the quality of care, increase the efficiency of health care delivery, prevent medical errors and enhance patient safety.

“Health care requires doctors to generate and manage huge quantities of information, so it’s about time that clinical informatics was recognized as a formal medical specialty. Dr. Finnell has worked for many years in the Wishard Health Services Emergency Department and as an information scientist and educator for IU and the Regenstrief Institute,” said Regenstrief Institute President William Tierney, M.D., associate dean for clinical effectiveness research at the Indiana University School of Medicine and chief of medicine at Wishard. “His broad experience will assure us that the practice board exam in clinical informatics will be both practical and complete. Those who take the practice exam will be well-prepared to take and pass the real board examination.”