AMIA: 'Clinical informatics has arrived'

New subspecialty set to 'transform' care delivery
By Mike Miliard
10:24 AM
William Hersh

Physicians in the first subspecialty of clinical informatics spearheaded by the American Medical Informatics Association got their board certifications this month – a pivotal moment in healthcare's "systemic overhaul," according to AMIA.

The creation of this new subspecialty will help standardize clinical informatics training programs, increase the number of training opportunities available and provide an immediately recognized credential for organizations hiring informaticians, officials say.

AMIA worked for more than five years to define and create the discipline with the goal of advancing the field and the role of informaticians in improving healthcare; the new crop of doctors in the program received notice of their board certification earlier in December.

[See also: Clinical informatics becomes a board-certified medical subspecialty.]

"We congratulate the newly certified leaders of the clinical informatics field, as they take their next step toward improving healthcare delivery," said AMIA Incoming Board of Directors Chair Blackford Middleton, MD, in a press statement. "These physicians have demonstrated that they understand the design and implementation of informatics systems, and are poised to integrate these solutions into their healthcare delivery organizations."

The subspecialty was approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties in 2011. The board exam was administered this past October through the American Board of Preventive Medicine, and offered to pathologists through the American Board of Pathology. The 455 new subspecialists were notified of their certification earlier this month.

"Clinical informatics has arrived, and I'm proud to be a part of the pioneer class of leaders in this field," said William Hersh, MD, professor and chair of the department of medical informatics & clinical epidemiology at Oregon Health & Science University, in a statement.

Hersh received his board certification this month and also directed AMIA's clinical informatics board review course.

"When you look at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's definition of the informatics discipline, the operative word is 'transform,'" he said. "Every day, informaticians are working in their healthcare settings to change how we do things, to improve patient care and population health."

[See also: AMIA looks to workforce of the future.]

The board certification is open to physicians of all specialties, encouraging interdisciplinary cooperation in the clinical informatics field. Physicians can currently become eligible for the exam by demonstrating practical informatics experience. However, after five years, candidates for the subspecialty will need to complete an accredited clinical informatics fellowship with the Council on Graduate Medical Education.

"What makes this subspecialty interesting is that any primary specialty diplomat can apply to become board certified in clinical informatics," said Middleton said. "It is illustrative of the ubiquitous need across our entire healthcare delivery system to engage with professionals who understand how to improve the value of care with informatics."

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