UWS to offer health information management specialisation

The University of Western Sydney (UWS) will offer a new specialisation in health information management (HIM) as part of its Bachelor of Information and Communications Technology (B.ICT) degree from next year.

UWS said the decision to offer the specialisation within the B.ICT domain was based on the increasing use of electronic medical records and other digital healthcare systems, as well as the national implementation of a health funding system based on actual resourcing of patient care.

According to UWS, future HIM graduates need a fundamental foundation in ICT to effectively manage the increasing volume of patient data that needs to be available in accurate, reliable and standards-based digital form.

The director of the academic program for the B.ICT in UWS's School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, Joanne Curry, said discussions with management from both the public and private health sector were the driving force behind developing the course, as it will provide direct entry into the health workforce due to the shortage of newly skilled resources entering the market.

“I am very excited to be offering this degree, the first HIM qualification in the world that will be based on a computing degree,” Dr Curry said. “This will make UWS graduates from this course highly desirable to employers. I anticipate competition for degree places will be strong as there is guaranteed job placements with at least 500 job vacancies currently available.”

Dr Curry said HIMs will be planning healthcare computing and information systems, developing health policy and identifying current and future health information needs within the health service environment.

In addition, HIMs apply information technology to the collection, storage, retrieval, use and transmission of information to meet the clinical, legal, professional, ethical and administrative record keeping requirements of health care organisations.

The CEO of the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA), Richard Lawrance, said that for students who don’t necessarily want to be at the front line of clinical care but nevertheless have the desire to make a difference in healthcare, health information management provided the perfect career path.

“On one hand, you learn the clinical knowledge to be able to meet the point of care informational needs of clinicians and other front line healthcare practitioners,” Mr Lawrance said. “On the other you are engaging with the technical capability of a healthcare system to generate and manage accurate data.

“At the same time, you are managing the translation of that data into meaningful information for each contributor to the health care service, including financing and resourcing.

“It’s challenging but amazingly engaging work and a great foundation from which to branch out into other specialisations. HIMs are, literally, everywhere.”

HIMAA will be working with UWS to provide support from the profession for B.ICT (HIM) students, including the offer of two scholarships.

The HIM component of the degree will include two specific opportunities to get an insight into the profession. One is a health service management practice unit, involving a 20-day work placement over the length of the semester, and the other is a professional experience project for a health-based client.

UWS said students will also have the opportunity to develop in student entrepreneurship and innovation as an activity to achieve engaged learning, creating for example a mobile app for storing individual health information.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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