INDIANAPOLIS — As more patient information takes an electronic form, physicians must work with computers efficiently and effectively to provide the best care. To help physicians not just use but shape the course of electronic medical record systems and health information exchange, the Regenstrief Institute and the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine are offering one of the nation’s first accredited clinical informatics fellowship training programs.
Electronic patient records are still in their formative years, and they have to evolve significantly to meet the needs of patient care. Clinical informatics, a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field merging medicine and computer science, focuses on the collection and use of electronic patient data to improve delivery of health care, with the goal of improving the health of individuals and entire populations.
“Health care is information rich,” said John T. Finnell, M.D., M.S., who directs the new two-year fellowship program. “Providers need access to a complex data set while providing care for their patients.
“Patients generate data at every encounter,” said Dr. Finnell, a Regenstrief Institute investigator who is also an associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at the IU School of Medicine. “Clinicians leverage information to determine the best care for individual patients, as well as health care systems needs, to understand priorities in providing care for an entire population of individuals.”
In 2011, clinical informatics became the first physician medical subspecialty available for all 24 medical specialties accredited by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The first physician certification examination in the field was administered in fall 2013.
The program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education as part of an initiative of the council and the American Board of Anesthesiology, the American Board of Emergency Medicine, the American Board of Family Medicine, the American Board of Genetics and Genomics, the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Pathology, the American Board of Pediatrics, the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Radiology.
Latifat A. Oyekola, M.D., who completed a residency in family medicine at the University of Arkansas, is the Regenstrief/IU program’s inaugural clinical informatics fellow.
Justin Morea, D.O., an internist who completed residency training with the Christiana Care Health System in Delaware and was a Mamlin-McDonald Biomedical Informatics Fellow at the Regenstrief Institute, is the first physician to have received clinical informatics subspecialty accreditation through Regenstrief and Indiana University. He currently is associate chief medical information officer at Eskenazi Health, one of the largest safety-net health systems in the United States, and an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the IU School of Medicine.
“The nation is very rapidly moving towards ‘digitizing’ health care,” said Titus Schleyer, DMD, Ph.D., director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute and Clem McDonald Professor of Biomedical Informatics at the IU School of Medicine. He also serves as director of the biomedical informatics core of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. “Electronic health records have had huge benefits, but there are also a lot of bumps in the road. Physicians are largely very dissatisfied with EHRs as tools for their daily work. Individuals trained in clinical informatics can help chart the way to a better future.”
The Regenstrief Institute has trained informatics fellows since the 1970s. For nearly half a century, the institute has been recognized for its use of electronic data systems to improve the quality of care, increase the efficiency of health care delivery, prevent medical errors and enhance patient safety. The institute serves as home base for clinical informatics fellows, with its Center for Biomedical Informatics providing core faculty for the program.
Fellows in the new program will gain clinical exposure at Eskenazi Health and IU Health and also have the opportunity to work with the Marion County Department of Health, the Indiana Office of Medicaid Services and the Indiana Health Information Exchange, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services.
In addition to the Regenstrief Institute/IU program, ACGME-accredited clinical informatics fellowship programs are offered by Stanford University, University of Illinois at Chicago and Oregon Health and Science University.