Tuesday, June 23, 2009

10 tips for physicians interested in a health IT career

If you're a physician and you're thinking about starting a career in health information technology (health IT, HIT or HITECH), do you know where to start? If you've been actively involved in your hospital IT department, then you may have many years of experience in this space. However, if you lack experience and you consider yourself to be an inexperienced novice, consider these 10 tips:
  1. If you lack formal training in medical informatics, consider getting a master's degree in either medical informatics, biomedical informatics, or health informatics. A master's degree isn't essential, but if you lack work experience in this space, then it may be a worthwhile investment that may eventually springboard you into a promising position. Many of these programs utilize distance learning and can be done part-time. For example, Northwestern University offers a Master of Science in Medical Informatics.
  2. Start following all the news related to health IT. One good source is Healthcare IT News. Stay current with all the legislative updates. Can you define "meaningful use?"
  3. Join HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) and AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association).Eventually, you may want to look into the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS).
  4. Build your social network. Reach out to people working in the health IT space and get to know them. I suggest using Twitter and LinkedIn.
  5. Attend conferences that focus on health IT. HIMSS is a major conference that occurs annually and I would highly recommend attending.
  6. Learn all the acronyms spoken in the world of health IT. It's like another language. ASP, NAHIT, HITOP, ARRA, HIT, OHITA, HIT, HIS, HIMSS, CHITA, CCHIT, HSA, EHR, EMR, PHR, HITECH, HIPAA, ONC, VistA (no, not the operating system), and more.
  7. Get very familiar with the CCHIT : Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology.
  8. Strengthen your computer skills. If you're a health IT executive, you'll be expected to be very familiar with basic computing skills at a minimum. Get a smartphone, start using mobile computing technology, and become an expert with Microsoft Office. Learn about cloud computing.
  9. Pursue health IT certification. HIMSS offers CPHIMS, but you need to demonstrate some work experience to qualify for CPHIMS. There are other types of certifications such as CPEHR, CPHIT, and CPHIE. The nice thing is that work experience is not required to achieve these 3. Research whether they are worth pursuing.
  10. Follow my blogs. I blog about health IT related topics on all 4 of my blogs:


2 comments:

  1. # Strengthen your computer skills. 1) If you're a health IT executive, you'll be expected to be very familiar with basic computing skills at a minimum. Get a smartphone, start using mobile computing technology, and become an expert with Microsoft Office. Learn about cloud computing.

    I'm sorry. I do not understand the reasons for this advice. It's like telling someone interested in professional telecommunications to get a CB radio. Might not a better use of one's time be to take a course in introductory computer science?

    #2 Pursue health IT certification. HIMSS offers CPHIMS, but you need to demonstrate some work experience to qualify for CPHIMS.

    Speaking of radio, the CPHIMS process is far less robust than that I underwent via the FCC to secure an Amateur radio license - a hobby.

    Does this "certification" reflect the culture of medicine, or something else?

    -- MedInformaticsMD

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  2. Regarding #9 -

    CPHIMS is certainly getting well known as HIMSS has been pushing it like crazy, but does it really carry any weight with employers?

    I have done a lot of investigation on this, see my own past blog post "Is CPHIMS Worth It?"
    http://tinyurl.com/yldh4j6

    I'm not as familiar with the other certifications you mention (HIE, etc.). How do you think they compare? Specifically, how much more/less weight do you think they carry with potential employers compared to CPHIMS?

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