HISA: All you need to know to become HIP
This article first appeared in the July 2012 edition of Pulse+IT Magazine.
As Australia’s health informatics organisation, HISA receives regular enquiries from a wide range of people and organisations. Hardly a week goes by where we don’t get an enquiry from someone who has recently discovered health informatics and they contact us looking for advice and guidance as to what their next steps should be. How do they know if health informatics is for them? Is there somewhere they can go and study? How should they choose what and where to study? Can they train on the job? What career options are available? Are there jobs available?
These ‘emerging health informatics professionals’ are far from a homogenous group — some are post-graduate students, some are practicing clinicians, while others are from health information management or IT backgrounds. What they do have in common is an interest in health informatics and are unsure about how and what they should do next.
On the flip side, I often find myself in conversations with people in leadership positions who are frustrated that they can’t find staff with the right skill set, knowledge and experience. They tell me it is becoming increasingly difficult to hire and retain health informatics staff to plan and deliver either key projects or operational work.
As Pulse+IT readers, you know that there is a hive of eHealth-related activity at the local, state and national level. There was a time not so many years ago where eHealth and health informatics news was sparse in Australia; and now our publications are brimming with news of new and expanded initiatives and projects. There are many exciting projects taking place across the country, and as our healthcare system continues to evolve to one that is truly enabled by eHealth, the demand for health informatics professionals will continue to grow.
So there is great news – the field of health informatics is booming and is set for strong growth. But there is also a workforce shortage that needs to be addressed.
The workforce shortage in health informatics has been prioritised by Health Workforce Australia (HWA). HWA was established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to “address the challenges of providing a skilled, flexible and innovative health workforce”. HISA and other organisations and individuals have contributed to HWA’s study on the health informatics workforce and this report is due to be released soon.
Addressing the health informatics human resource capacity required to meet the needs of current and future healthcare delivery will continue to be a focus driving HISA’s plans and activities.
Health informatics workforce issues will be a strong theme running through HIC this year, culminating in a panel during the final session of the conference entitled ‘Can Australia lead the world in digital healthcare? The role of health informatics and its professionals’. There will also be a specialised workshop on ‘The future role of the health informatics professional — opportunities, training, options and accreditation’. If you are a student, an emerging health informatics professional or interested in mentoring future talent, a meeting will be held during HIC to bring those people together and to further develop a strong network amongst our future professionals.
But most importantly, we will be officially announcing the launch of an Australian Health Informatics Certification Program at HIC. HISA has been working with the Australasian College of Health Informatics (ACHI) and more recently with the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) and others to put together a framework for this important initiative.
The Health Informatics Certification Program will contribute greatly to the development of the health informatics workforce and health informatics capability by providing additional ‘currency’ for the recognition of health informatics experience and knowledge.
Becoming a certified health informatics professional will involve the successful completion of an exam, the content of which will cover the breadth and depth of health informatics. The first round of candidates will complete the exam in 2013.
As the development of the certification program progresses, more information will be made available through outlets such as Pulse+IT and the ACHI and HISA websites. Stay tuned for more updates and in the meantime if you would like to contribute to our activities in this arena, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Dr Louise Schaper
Dr Louise Schaper is CEO of the Health Informatics Society of Australia, Australia’s health informatics organisation. Louise has over 10 years of experience in eHealth and health informatics, a degree in occupational therapy and a PhD on technology acceptance in healthcare.
Posted in Australian eHealth