Healthcare Business News

Informaticist certification specs expected soon

By Joseph Conn
Posted: November 14, 2012 - 2:15 pm ET

The path for board-certified physicians wanting to receive additional certification in the subspecialty of clinical informatics is a bit clearer, with final parameters to be released before year-end, and testing and review courses to be available sometime in 2013.

Dr. William Hersh, 54, a professor and chairman of the department of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology at the school of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, will head up the board review course program under the auspices of the American Medical Informatics Association. The AMIA is a longtime champion of the movement for professional informatics credentialing and board certification. An update of the programs' status was delivered at the AMIA annual symposium last week in Chicago, Hersh said.

"Basically, what everyone is waiting for now is the American Board of Preventive Medicine to release the details," Hersh said. Those should be posted to the ABPM's website by year-end, he said, with the first review courses and testing programs to be ready sometime next year.

The ABPM has received approval from the American Board of Medical Specialties for the new subspecialty, which will be limited to diplomates of all ABMS member boards.

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In September 2011, the AMIA announced that agreements were in place with the ABPM to oversee the process to add certification in medical informatics for physicians as a board-certified subspecialty.

The AMIA also announced last year it would pursue a parallel track to create a certification program for nurses, pharmacists and Ph.D.s who are working full-time in clinical informatics.

Even after the ABPM update, some key details, including "grandfathering" specifications for those who currently have some formal informatics training and/or experience, remain unknown, Hersh said.

All applicants for board certification, whether they're coming out of a residency program or being grandfathered in, will need to take the examination, Hersh said.

Hersh said the AMIA certification program, also being developed, could be of interest to experienced, full-time physician informaticists who may no longer maintain board certification in a medical specialty.

Early on, certification probably won't matter to job candidates seeking openings in medical informatics, but that will change, Hersh predicts.

"It's like emergency medicine," he said. In that medical specialty's infancy, "There were very few people who were specialists," he said, "but now it's going to be hard to get a job in an emergency room if you're not board-certified."

Hersh said he envisions the same five- to 10-year arc for certification in medical informatics.

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