February 2010, Volume 14, Number 1


New Institute for Health Informatics will help students enter growing field


Health care informatics, the intersection of information science, computer science and health care, is a burgeoning field. It encompasses the various resources, devices and methods that are used to enhance the acquisition, storage and use of information in health and biomedicine.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are part of this field and so important to the future of medicine that the Obama Administration passed the Hi-Tech Act, which calls for billions of dollars to be paid to doctors who implement these electronic records. The Hi-Tech Act is a subset of the Administration's commitment to improving health care via the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).

Miami Dade College, recognizing the importance of EHRs for the future of health care and the need for well-trained individuals to manage these systems, has acted quickly in response to the ARRA and formed The Institute for Health Informatics.

"The purpose of the Institute is to begin the process of preparing our faculty and students to become familiar with health informatics and EHRs," said Mark Nestor, chief information officer, Medical Center Campus. "We believe the Medical Center Campus can position itself very quickly to become a nationally recognized leader."

The Institute is an interdisciplinary group of faculty and administrators who are interested in implementing EHRs into every program at the Campus. The group currently is researching best practices for health informatics in order to recommend curriculum enhancements and hardware and software solutions. The Institute is also working to form partnerships with area practices and medical facilities, and finding opportunities to educate the health care community about the legislation and EHRs.

"The goal of the Institute is to produce better-prepared graduates and identify new job opportunities related to health care information technology," Mark added. "We are committed to becoming a leader in the area of health care information technology. We believe the Institute for Health Informatics can accomplish this by advocating for the use of EHRs in all of our programs and possibly creating new programs to meet the needs of individuals who wish to enter the field."

— BB

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Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
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