Clinical Informatics Fellowship Offered at University Hospitals
June 01, 2022
UH Innovations | Summer 2022
It’s estimated that medical knowledge doubles within a matter of months. Treating increasingly complex patient populations in an ever-changing field requires greater specialization and collaboration among physicians.
As a result, electronic medical records (EMR) serve as a crucial hub, connecting health care providers to relevant patient information and their care team in real-time. So how can physicians lead the way to ensure meaningful integration of EMRs and related information technology (IT) into systems of care?
“Knowledge of medical treatments comes largely in medical school and residency,” says Maulik P. Purohit, MD, MPH, Associate Chief Medical Information Officer and Clinical Innovations Lead at University Hospitals. “But, along with that, physicians need to learn how to execute and manage care through today’s IT systems.
“The American Board of Specialties and its accrediting board, the ACGME, recognized the great need for this and acted proactively to create a specialty in this area — Clinical Informatics,” adds Dr. Purohit, who is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “The goal behind this is to learn how to leverage the technology instead of the technology leveraging you.”
In partnership with the School of Medicine, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center is offering a two-year ACGME-accredited Clinical Informatics Fellowship that is open to physicians from any of the 24 primary specialties who have completed their medical residency. This relatively new and growing board-eligible subspecialty speaks to the ways health IT has permeated medicine.
A recurring columnist for Becker's Hospital Review, Dr. Purohit is a national thought leader in health care IT and played an instrumental role in establishing the Clinical Informatics Fellowship at University Hospitals.
“Clinical informatics diplomates leverage IT infrastructure, including the EMR, along with data science to gather, analyze and utilize health care in order to drive innovation in patient care,” he says. “Just as a stethoscope and scalpel were once technological advancements that improved healthcare, IT is a tool to improve healthcare in today’s world.”
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) first recognized clinical informatics as a subspecialty in 2011; more than 2,000 physicians have earned board certification.
Fellows continue their clinical work as they study, design and implement information systems aimed to improve population and individual health outcomes. Working with teams of informatics professionals, fellows rotate through education in areas of IT that include data analysis, machine learning, clinical support systems and EMR management.
Most importantly, they prepare for leadership roles in health care organizations. For example, consider the complex landscape of IT interactions across a hospital system. Physicians, nurses, lab techs, registration and scheduling staff, billing and coding specialists, and countless additional stakeholders must coordinate all efforts
“Until recently, managing clinical data systems was not part of the standard medical curriculum,” Dr. Purohit says. “To maximize the benefit of current and emerging IT tools, physicians need to combine their core knowledge with a talent for inspiring and implementing change to become transformation leaders.”
With the U.S. health care system pressured by increased disease prevalence, practitioner shortages and ballooning costs, what roles can clinical informatics play in easing the strain?
Improving EMR usability
While EMRs are fantastic tools in many ways, improving the EMR in its role to serve patient care and clinicians is important. “There is tremendous opportunity for innovation concerning the way EMRs designed and used,” Dr. Purohit says.
Offering decision support
One technology with promise is using machine learning algorithms togenerate a diagnosis or flag risk based on radiology scans, lab results and vital signs. “Sometimes, data may suggest a patient will deteriorate before practitioners detect a change,” he notes. “Human intelligence can then interpret and prioritize information and set a course for treatment.”
Addressing social determinants of health
Because clinical informatics drive analytics for population health, data can help practitioners target at-risk communities. “We know that readmissions and other factors are influenced by social issues, including neighborhood pollution or lack of access to groceries or pharmacies,” Dr. Purohit says. “Using artificial intelligence, we can consider environmental context and connect patients with appropriate resources to take better care of those in our community who are most vulnerable.”
Enhancing the patient experience
As people are increasingly integrating technology to simplify their lives, they seek connectivity in health care. “Patients are choosing care based on their ability to access providers, retrieve health information and schedule appointments at their fingertips,” he says. “Today's health care consumers are demanding smart, seamless solutions—and we should deliver on that demand because it’s the better way to do it.”
These are just a few potential areas where IT can be leveraged to provide a better experience for all.
For more information, please contact Dr. Purohit at Maulik.Purohit@UHhospitals.org.
Tags: Medical Education