As eHealth drives forward, the skills and knowledge of health professionals dealing with informatics has to keep up. ”It's essential to keep moving, learning and evolving for as long as you're here and this world keeps spinning” says Rasheed Ogunlaru, a business coach. Sometimes eHealth seems it might be spinning too, as it expands from databases to analytics and into wider domains over the eHealth horizon.
It’s a big challenge, and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) has shown a way ahead. Its Tasks Force report in Applied Clinical Informatics (ACI) sets out a comprehensive learning programme for the numerous types of health professionals dealing with clinical aspects of informatics. It offers an excellent template for Africa’s health systems to adopt
The knowledge needed includes:
- Understanding the science of informatics, the healthcare domain, clinical care processes, socio-technical challenges of care, communication, and clinical workflow
- Understand how to communicate successfully with patients, citizens and clinicians about the impact and effects of eHealth on healthcare
- Fundamentals are set out as clinical informatics and healthcare systems, clinical decision making, clinical care process improvement, clinical decision support, evidence-based patient care, clinical workflow analysis, process redesign, quality improvement, human factors engineering, eHealth systems and apps, clinical data standards, eHealth lifecycles, leading and managing change, project management, strategic and financial planning.
There are many skills required. They include the ability to:
- Guide EHR selection process
- Define eHealth governance process
- Engage senior executives in EHR culture and practice changes
- Advise on implementation methodology and sequences of EHR modules
- Identify eHealth value propositions and key performance indicators
- Provide oversight of system design and implementation
- Create implementation and key performance indicator score cards
- Determine an enhancement request system and prioritisation process
- Staff process improvement initiatives
- eHealth education health and interplay with people and process changes, develop strong relationships with key stakeholders, including the other CCIOs.
The considerable scope of these emphasises the life-long learning needed for these health professionals to succeed. A voracious capacity for it seems a prerequisite. Henry Ford revealed an incentive to succeed. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”