New center at Duke University to focus on healthcare IT

By Kyle Hardy
10:52 AM

In response to the growing need for specialists in healtcare information technology, Duke University has created the Duke Center for Health Informatics.

The new center will be dedicated to overseeing an interdisciplinary approach to education in healthcare informatics gearing up a new generation of nurses, physicians and healthcare administrators, said Duke officials.

"There is little question that succeeding following healthcare reform will require healthcare professionals and executives to have an understanding of health informatics and how informatics can be applied using specific tools and capabilities," said Victor J. Dzau, MD, chancellor for health affairs at Duke and CEO, Duke University Health System. "I believe the DCHI will play a significant role in advancing the pragmatic application of informatics in many healthcare settings."

Heading up the DCHI will be healthcare IT expert W. Ed Hammond. Former president of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and the American College of Medical Informatics, Hammond was the recipient of the 2003 Morris F. Collen Award of Excellence, presented at the Annual Symposium of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Duke officials said the DCHI will involve a collaboration by the Duke University Schools of Medicine and Nursing, and the Fuqua School of Business. Officials expect the collaboration to reflect the multiple areas of healthcare informatics.

The new center is expected to have a strong focus on the outcome of improving human health, as well as tight integration between health system operations and research programs. Officials plan to design and implement a distinctly interdisciplinary curriculum and training environment. The program is expected to emphasize the use of information and information systems to improve human health.

Duke officials are in the process of designing curriculum for the DCHI.

"Bringing these strong resources of Duke University together with an emphasis on applied health informatics is a unique vision, and one that will help meet the national demand for trained informaticists to guide the design, implementation and evaluation of health IT for the betterment of human health," said Asif Ahmad, vice president of diagnostic services at Duke University Health System, and chief information officer for DUHS and Duke University Medical Center.

The DCHI administration plans to be housed in the Duke Translational Medicine Institute led by Rob Califf, MD, vice chancellor for clinical research and director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, officials said.

"The interdisciplinary nature of the center and strong connection with the Translational Medicine Institute and the health system is a distinct statement of our commitment to leveraging health informatics to improve human health," said Califf.

The DCHI is expected to include more than 50 faculty members from Duke University and plans to receive funding from the National Center for Research Resources through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.