If you're a physician, at what point do you need "formal training" in medical informatics if you wish to pursue a career in health IT?
It's hard to answer, because it largely depends on how motivated you are to self-learn. Have you been keeping up with all the recent changes in health IT? Are you familiar with health IT language? Are you a member of HIMSS? Are you tech-savvy? Have you been actively involved in your hospital's health IT committee? Do you hold any certifications in health IT?
You're probably not going to find a "crash course" on health IT that will teach you everything you need to know in a very short amount of time. However, if you're willing to invest some time and energy into formal education, then you may want to take a look at some programs that leverage distance-learning and online classrooms.
If you're interested in pursuing a Master of Science in Medical Informatics, then I would suggest the program at Northwestern University that is offered in partnership with the Feinberg School of Medicine.
Northwestern University's Master of Science in Medical Informatics program gives individuals with information technology backgrounds and clinically trained health professionals the knowledge and experience needed to apply their talents to careers in information services organizations within hospitals, health systems, academic environments, and the health systems and equipment industry. This interdisciplinary professional program aims to blend computing and clinical skills in the emerging field of medical informatics. The curriculum recognizes the complexities and academic demands of the field and emphasizes the specific technical requirements of the profession without training its students too narrowly. Graduates are able to understand and affect developments in the medical informatics field from a technical, theoretical, and managerial perspective.The nice thing about distance learning is that you can take courses from anywhere. I almost went to Northwestern University for my undergrad. I ended up at MIT instead. However, I think I would have been very happy at Northwestern. Chicago is a great city.