With nearly 25 years in health information technology, faculty member Kelly Booker, MBA, RHIA, has seen what works, and what doesn’t, as organizations leverage informatics. Rather than brush over things she would do differently if she had them to do over again as a software implementation director, project manager, and consultant, Booker uses them, along with her successes, in the courses she teaches in the new interprofessional Informatics specialization.
How is informatics changing healthcare?
Because we’re able to collect better data, we’re able to make better decisions. The most recent software I built was for sepsis alerts. Different factors contribute to sepsis. Your white blood count drops. Your temperature goes up. We took those data points and put them in a system to monitor them in real time. When the lab comes in and the white blood cells have gone down, an alert goes off and the physician can immediately go to that patient and mitigate before the patient goes into full-blown sepsis.
Tell us about the Informatics specialization.
It is for clinical and nonclinical professionals. Our interprofessional approach means you can learn with graduate students from our nursing, athletic training, health administration, and other programs. Anyone can take our introductory course, with the option to complete the remaining three courses for a specialization. The case studies are about events that happened in the last year so students focus on what’s current. I also use my experience on projects in hospital and software development environments to develop real-life scenarios. I even embed the mistakes I made and challenge students to figure out what went wrong.
What are the opportunities for healthcare professionals?
Healthcare is transitioning, and often there is a greater need for employees on the data side than on the delivery side. Software companies need people in specific fields to interpret the data being collected. Nurses who go into informatics can be involved in the nursing component of a large software implementation because they know what information is important and not important for a nurse to have on the screen. They can take their industry knowledge, their clinical knowledge, and apply it to systems.
What advice do you have for people considering informatics?
Go for it 100%. With healthcare continuing to be about improving patient outcomes and getting people discharged quicker, organizations need people, technology, and systems to do it. Informatics is here to stay. It’s also evolving with the technology, which makes it an exciting time.