Clinical Informatics: It’s Not Just Big Data

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When you first think of informatics, what comes to mind? Is it machines running statistical analysis on massive data set? Scientists trying to figure out what all this data means? Lots of 1’s and 0’s? Or maybe pages and pages of graphs and data visualizations?

Well, that is indeed a part of informatics, but it is by no means all of it.

Informatics and big data are not synonymous. In fact, they are very, very different.

Clinical Informatics Is Not Just Big Data

Clinical informatics is typically used to refer to the board subspecialty certification for physicians recently begun by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. This certification – open to licensed MDs and DOs in the US and Canada with at least 3 years of part-time informatics experience – is booming. Demand outstrips supply and CMIO positions are increasingly requiring board certification. Newly minted ACGME programs will also require program directors to be certified and encourage professors to be certified as well.

To date, two classes of physicians have sat for and passed their clinical informatics board specialty. Newly-certified physicians are taking their knowledge of health IT system management and combining it with their clinical knowledge to developed increasingly efficient workflows and systems. And healthcare organizations across the US are benefitting.

You’ll find that clinical informaticists are well-versed in the specialization’s core competencies – including:

  • Leadership and Managing Change
  • Health IT Systems
  • Clinical Decision Support
  • Clinical Data Standards
  • Evidence Based Medicine
  • Workflow Re-engineering
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Information System Lifecycle
  • The Health System

You see, clinical informatics isn’t just about data. It also places a strong emphasis on skills may medical schools never teach – leadership. This in-demand skill-set often leads clinical informaticists into CMIO, CIO, CMO, and other technically demanding, clinically focused leadership positions.

How to Become a Clinical Informaticist

If you’re a US or Canadian licensed physician with an current license and ABMS specialty certification, applications to apply to sit for the exam are open. You can get the application from the ABPM or check out how to apply for the clinical informatics exam. If you’re thinking of applying in the next few years, just consider that the certification will require a 24-month fellowship after 2018.

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