NEWS | January 21, 2014

Clinical informatics becomes a board-certified specialty


Three UC Davis physicians are among the nation’s first doctors to become board certified in clinical informatics, a new medical subspecialty created to help broaden and professionalize the health information technology workforce.

Hershan Johl, Scott MacDonald and Karnjit Johl were among the 423 physicians around the country who passed the inaugural board exam in October, according to the American Medical Informatics Association, a key organization working to advance the new subspecialty. All of the UC Davis physicians have had long involvement in informatics at UC Davis and have been leaders in the implementation of the electronic record and within the health informatics academic program. The doctors, who also had to already be board certified in one of the two dozen primary medical specialties, were required to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in various informatics areas, including codified terminologies, data structure and analysis, quality improvement, and software development.

Clinical informatics combines the disciplines of information management and computer sciences with health care to improve the delivery of clinical services for patients. It harnesses information technologies, including clinical decision-support analytics and electronic medical records, to optimize the acquisition, storage, retrieval and use of information in health care.

"This is a great start for developing the specialty of clinical informatics," said Peter Yellowlees, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Health Informatics Graduate Program at UC Davis. "Patients are the ultimate winners because the Affordable Care Act is premised on using health IT more effectively and making care more efficient. Improving health and the delivery of health-care services requires experienced and certified clinical informatics experts, and I am confident that several other UC Davis physicians will also become board certified in clinical informatics soon."

UC Davis School of Medicine has one of the largest health informatics education programs in the nation, offering both master’s degree and online certificate programs, with more than 300 individual students attending these informatics courses during 2013. The graduate program delivers advanced training to health professionals who want to redirect their careers to become health informaticists, or who are interested in integrating health-informatics expertise into their current professional roles. The program also hosts an annual conference. This year’s meeting, on April 11 at the UC Davis Conference Center in Davis, will focus on Health Informatics and the Affordable Care Act, and will be of interest to all who wish to see how we can improve our health-care delivery system.